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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Hosting (rendered as a theoretical concept in Chinese as zuozhu 做主) is one of the most important idioms through which Chinese people ‘do’ religion (note: hosting is not the same as hospitality). They host deities, ancestors as well as ghosts at fixed times during the annual ritual calendar. The spirits are invited to enjoy a feast of ritual offerings as an expression of gratitude to their blessings and then are sent back. Such ritual practices belong to what Dr Chau has called ‘relational modality of doing religion’. [In telling contrast, in Christianity God hosts humans while humans cannot host God.] The idiom of hosting is also used extensively in Chinese political life, as it is a crucial expression of sovereignty. Dr Chau is in the process of completing a monograph, tentative entitled The Sovereign Host: The Idiom of Hosting in Chinese Political and Religious Culture, exploring hosting practices and their implications. Hosting was also the theme of his Wilde Lectures in Natural and Comparative Religion, delivered at the University of Oxford in the spring of 2013. Dr Chau has already published several articles relating to hosting. 

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