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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Rooms 8 & 9, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Event date: 
Tuesday, 10 May, 2022 - 17:00
Event organiser: 

2022 Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies

Professor Philip Clart, Leipzig University

Religions in Contemporary Taiwan: Positioning the Sacred in a Secular Society

combined series poster ]

May 10 (Tuesday) First Lecture

Religious Museums in Taiwan: Intermediate Spaces between Sacred and Secular Spheres?

[ poster ]

This lecture investigates the negotiation of sacred and secular spaces in present-day Taiwan, with ‘religious museums’ as its case-example. A religious museum is here defined as one designed, run, and managed by a religious organisation; such museums raise a number of interesting questions concerning the religious organisation’s rationale for and specific approach to setting up and running a museum (as a supposedly secular space). I focus on the strategic discourses within religious organisations concerning the aims and purposes of their museum projects, in particular with regard to the definition and differentiation of secular and sacred spaces and functions; furthermore, I examine the museums’ functionality within the sponsoring religious organisations’ ongoing negotiation of their relationship with secular institutions and agents (such as, for example, government agencies, educational institutions, commercial companies, etc.). The lecture addresses selected case-examples, including the Museum of World Religions (2001, New Taipei City), the Buddha Museum (2011, Kaohsiung), the Chung Tai World Museum (2016, Puli township, Nantou county); the Taiwan Soka Association art centre (Taipei), museums attached to Yiguandao temples (Tainan, Taichung, Hsinchu, Taoyuan), and a museum attached to a local temple (New Taipei City).

Philip Clart is Professor of Chinese Culture and History at Leipzig University. He is the author and editor (or co-editor) of several books in the field of Chinese religions, including Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society (2003); Han Xiangzi: The Alchemical Adventures of a Daoist Immortal (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2007); The People and the Dao: New Studies of Chinese Religions in Honour of Daniel L. Overmyer (2009); Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions (2012); Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China: 1800–2012 (2015); Daoism and Local Cults: Rethinking the Paradigms (2020); Text and Context in the Modern History of Chinese Religions: Redemptive Societies and Their Sacred Texts (2020); Book Culture from China: Traces in Leipzig (2021). He has served in various capacities as a leader in the scholarly research on Chinese religious life, most notably as a long-time book-review editor (2002–14) and then editor (since 2015) of the Journal of Chinese Religions, the flagship journal of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions (SSCR). During his stay as a Beaufort Visiting Fellow at St John’s College during Michaelmas and Lent terms this academic year Professor Clart was working on completing a new book entitled The Continuing Adventures of Han Xiangzi: Folk Literature and Religion in China (17th–20th c.). Professor Clart has been doing research on and in Taiwan for almost thirty years, starting with his doctoral research on spirit-writing cults in Taiwan. More recently he has been researching on religious museums in Taiwan.

The annual Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies is generously funded by the Chuan Lyu Foundation.

Professor Adam Yuet Chau: