Posts Tagged ‘China’

Young and Seitz, ed, “Asia in the Making of Christianity”

June 26, 2013

Young, Richard Fox and Jonathan A. Seitz, eds. 2013. Asia in the Making of Christianity: Conversion, Agency, and Indigeneity, 1600s to the Present. London: Brill.

Contributors: Richard Fox Young, Jonathan A. Seitz, Nola Cooke, Richard Burden, Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, La Seng Dingrin, Erik de Maaker, Sipra Mukherjee, Gregory Vanderbilt, Jonas Adelin Jorgensen, Chad M. Bauman, Franklin Rausch, Rhonda Semple, Matthias Frenz, Edwin Zehner

Publisher’s Description: Drawing on first person accounts, Asia in the Making of Christianity studies conversion in the lives of Christians throughout Asia, past and present. Fifteen contributors treat perennial questions about conversion: continuity and discontinuity, conversion and communal conflict, and the politics of conversion. Some study individuals (An Chunggŭn of Korea, Liang Fa of China, Nehemiah Goreh of India), while others treat ethnolinguistic groups or large-scale movements. Converts sometimes appear as proto-nationalists, while others are suspected of cultural treason. Some transition effortlessly from leadership in one religious community into Christian ministry, while others re-convert to new forms of Christianity. The accounts collected here underscore the complexity of conversion, balancing individual agency with broader social trends and combining micro- with macrocontextual approaches

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Lim (ed), “Christianity in Contemporary China”

May 8, 2013

Lim, Francis Khek Gee, ed.  2012.  Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-cultural Perspectives.   New York: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in China. Despite its long history in China and its significant indigenization or intertwinement with Chinese society and culture, Christianity continues to generate suspicion among political elites and intense debates among broader communities within China. This unique book applies socio-cultural methods in the study of contemporary Christianity. Through a wide range of empirical analyses of the complex and highly diverse experience of Christianity in contemporary China, it examines the fraught processes by which various forms and practices of Christianity interact with the Chinese social, political and cultural spheres. Contributions by top scholars in the field are structured in the following sections: Enchantment, Nation and History, Civil Society, and Negotiating Boundaries. This book offers a major contribution to the field and provides a timely, wide-ranging assessment of Christianity in Contemporary China.

Cao, “Renegotiating Locality and Morality”

February 26, 2013

Cao, Nanlai. 2013. Renegotiating Locality and Morality in a Chinese Religious Diaspora: Wenzhou Christian Merchants in Paris, France. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 14(1).

Abstract: This paper explores the social and economic implications of indigenous Christian discourses and practices in the Wenzhou Chinese diaspora in Paris, France. Popularly known as China’s Jerusalem, the coastal Chinese city of Wenzhou is home to thousands of self-started home-grown Protestant churches and a million Protestants. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork, this study provides an ethnographic account of a group of Wenzhou merchants who have formed large Christian communities at home, along with migrant enclaves in Paris. The study shows how these migrant entrepreneurs and traders have brought their version of Christianity from China to France and how they perceive and deal with issues of illegality, moral contingency, native-place based loyalty and national belonging. It highlights the thoroughly intertwined relationship between an indigenised Chinese Christianity and the petty capitalist legacy of coastal southeast China in a secularised, exclusionary European context, and suggests that Christianity provides a form of non-market morality that serves to effectively legitimate Wenzhou’s pre-modern household economy in the context of market modernity.

Lau, “Mobility, Christianity, and Belonging”

February 26, 2013

Lau, Sin Wen. 2013. Mobility, Christianity, and Belonging: Reflections of an Overseas Chinese Expatriate Wife in Shanghai. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 14(1).

Abstract: This paper explores what it means to be a Christian on the move in a transnational Asia. It provides an account of the reflections of a Singaporean expatriate wife as she searches for a spiritual home in Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It shows how her sense of being Christian is shaped by extra-religious concerns of class, language and nationality. Underscoring the tensions inherent in finding faith in motion, this paper aims to nuance prevalent understandings of religion as havens for people on the move.

Pavey “Theologies of Power and Crisis”

June 4, 2012

Pavey, Stephen.  (2011). Theologies of Power and Crisis: Envisioning/Embodying Christianity in Hong Kong.  Wipf and Stock.

Publisher’s Description:

Theologies of Power and Crisis provides a case study for Eric Wolf’s research directive to better comprehend the interplay of cultural (webs of meaning) and material (webs of power) forms of social life. More specifically, the book demonstrates how theological discourse and practice engage with historical and material relations of power. It has been normative to speak of power in terms of political and economic processes and theology in terms of interpretive and symbolic experiences. This work breaks new ground by linking theological ideas with political-economic processes in terms of the structural relations of power.
Ethnographically, this research investigates the theological processes of Hong Kong Chinese Christians during a period of significant social change and crisis, precipitated by the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. It shows how local Christians and Christian institutions mediated the significant regional, national, and transnational forces of political-economic change by connecting theological practice to the structural relations of power. The Christian response was a contested process closely intertwined with the broader contested processes of social organization.
This study develops an understanding of Christianity that goes beyond ecclesiastical hegemony to encompass struggles over human practice, meaning, and representation in relation to the changing political-economic context. These findings implicate religious ideas and practice as significant to an understanding of social inequalities and powerlessness by connecting ideologies to material conditions. Christian ideas may be used to legitimize an oppressive social order or they may be used to liberate those who are oppressed. Issues related to the policies and practice of development should take seriously the role of religious beliefs and practices.

Cao “Constructing China’s Jerusalem”

October 15, 2011

Cao, Nanlai (2011) Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou. Stanford: Stanford University Press

Publisher’s Description: Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews, this illuminating book provides an intimate portrait of contemporary Chinese Christianity in the context of a modern, commercialized economy. In vivid detail, anthropologist Nanlai Cao explores the massive resurgence of Protestant Christianity in the southeastern coastal city of Wenzhou—popularly referred to by its residents as “China’s Jerusalem”—a nationwide model for economic development and the largest urban Christian center in China.

Cao’s study of Chinese Christians delves into the dynamics of activities such as banqueting, network building, property acquisition, mate selection, marriage ritual, migrant work, and education. Unlike previous research that has mainly looked at older, rural, and socially marginalized church communities, Cao trains his focus on economically powerful, politically connected, moralizing Christian entrepreneurs. In framing the city of Wenzhou as China’s Jerusalem, newly rich Chinese Christians seek not only to express their leadership aspirations in a global religious movement but also to assert their place, identity, and elite status in post-reform Chinese society.

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