skip to primary navigationskip to content

Chinese Religion under Socialism. Dr Adam Yuet Chau

The Chinese religious landscape has undergone tremendous transformations under socialism in the past six decades or so. How do we understand the mechanisms and processes of these transformations? One of the most important things to keep in mind while trying to answer this question is to understand religious traditions as always changing and transforming, therefore we should not posit a pre-revolutionary past that was unchanging or can serve as a stable reference point. Another thing to keep in mind is that changes in the religious landscape are more often than not resulting from broader changes in society (e.g. economic reform, urbanisation, transnationalism, etc.) rather than state religious policies. Key themes explored include: the politics of legitimation, the emergence of the temple boss as local elite, local temple activism, the interactions between local state agents and local temple communities, the re-emergence of household-based provision and consumption of ritual services, etc.

Dr Chau has published on this particular theme in the following works:

2005. ‘The Politics of Legitimation and the Revival of Popular Religion in Shaanbei, North-Central China’, Modern China 31(2): 236-78. [Article anthologised in Contemporary Chinese Society and Politics, edited by Andrew Kipnis, Luigi Tomba and Jonathan Unger, Routledge, 2009 (Volume 4, chapter 66; pp. 236-278)]

2006. Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

2009. ‘Expanding the Space of Popular Religion: Local Temple Activism and the Politics of Legitimation in Contemporary Rural China’, in Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Contemporary China, edited by Yoshiko Ashiwa and David Wank, Stanford University Press, pp. 211-240.

2011. ‘Introduction: Revitalizing and Innovating Religious Traditions in Contemporary China’, in Religion in Contemporary China: Revitalization and Innovation, edited by Adam Yuet Chau, Routledge.

2012. ‘La channeling zone : religion populaire, État local et rites de légitimation en Chine rurale à l'ère de la réforme’ (The Channeling Zone : Popular Religion, the Local State, and Rites of Legitimation in Rural China during the Reform Era), Gradhiva: Revue d'anthropologie et d'histoire des arts (special issue on Chines, l'État au musée, edited by Brigitte Baptandier and Anne-Christine Trémon). Published by Musée du Quai Branly, No. 16: 156-177.

Forthcoming. ‘Chinese Socialism and the Household Idiom of Religious Engagement’, in Religion and Communism: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Tam Ngo and Justine Quijada.

Forthcoming. ‘The Commodification of Religion in Contemporary China’, in Modern Chinese Religion, 1850-Present, edited by Vincent Goossaert et al.