skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Room LG17, Faculty of Law
Event date: 
Thursday, 4 May, 2023 - 17:00
Event organiser: 

2023 Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies

Dr Stefania Travagnin, SOAS, University of London

The Spectrum of Unlimited Possibilities for Religion in Taiwan
Unpacking and Reassessing Narratives and Protagonists

combined series poster ]

May 4 (Thursday) First Lecture

Making Sense of the Taiwanese Religious Scene
Preservation of the Past while Engaging with the Future

[ poster ]

Buddhism, Daoism, Yiguandao, Christianity, Islam, but also aboriginal religions, and hybrid practices: these are just some of the faces of Taiwanese religion. Historically, beliefs and practices have undergone considerable changes but have also displayed underlying and solid continuities; and more recently, with the steady development of media and digital technology, they have transferred and reshaped their presence onto new platforms. This lecture will trace the development of the Taiwanese religious scenes through the analysis of a series of binaries and contrasts that, I argue, have given structure to local religious life. Inclusion and exclusion practices, private and public spheres, the past and the new: these contrasts have often co-existed in a sensible balance, but some other times they have engendered dynamics of tension. Some of these contrasts, as we will see, have also concerned and contributed to the process of formation of a ‘Taiwanese’ identity. The lecture will be based mostly on case-studies from Buddhist communities, and their participation in these contrasts and binaries.

Stefania Travagnin teaches at SOAS, University of London. Before joining SOAS, she held the position of founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She has a MA in Chinese Studies from Ca’Foscari University (Italy) and a PhD in the Study of Religion from SOAS. Travagnin has done field research among Buddhist communities in Taiwan for more than twenty years, has been visiting scholar in several Taiwanese institutes like Academia Sinica, National Cheng Chi University, and the Center of Chinese Studies at the National Central Library of Taipei; she has active collaborations with Taiwanese Buddhist institutions like Tzu Chi Foundation, and is a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Buddhism in Taiwan in Hsuan-Chuang University. Her research and publications on religion in Taiwan have explored especially Buddhist women, the phenomenon of Humanistic Buddhism, religion and media, and life and works of the monk Yinshun. In the past few years she has also researched Buddhist communities in Sichuan, and is currently co-director of the multiyear project “Mapping Religious Diversity in Modern Sichuan” (CCKF funds, 2017-2023). She has edited or co-edited several volumes, including Religion and Media in China: Insights and Case Studies from the Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (Routledge, 2016), and the three-volume publication Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions (De Gruyter, 2019-2020). She is also co-editor of the journal Contemporary Buddhism, and editor-in-chief of Review of Religion and Chinese Society.

Dr Stefania Travagnin

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

Professor Adam Yuet Chau: