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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


This project aims to stop people from asking the question: How many religions are there in China? 

Instead, Dr Chau's work asks: How do people do religion in China? In examining the ways in which Chinese people have been engaged in religious activities historically as well as today he identifies five ‘modalities of doing religion’. These five modalities of doing religion are: (1) discursive/scriptural, involving mostly the composition and use of texts and engaging in religious discourse; (2) personal-cultivational, involving a long-term interest in cultivating and transforming oneself; (3) liturgical, involving elaborate ritual procedures conducted by ritual specialists; (4) immediate-practical, aiming at quick results using simple ritual or magical techniques; and (5) relational, emphasising the relationship between humans and deities (or ancestors) as well as among humans in religious practices. This new way of looking at religious life can be used, with some modifications of course, in understanding how people ‘do religion’ in other societies and historical periods as well.

Faculty Researchers