Papers on Religion III

Popularisation
Thursday
09:00 am – 10:45 pm
Room F

  • Zi Chen, “An Ethnographical Study of the Producers of Paper—Offerings in Shandong Rural Society”
  • Kai Wang, “The Migration and Its Impacts of Jiangsu and Zhejiang Monks in Late Ming and Early Qing Dynasty”
  • Zhenzi Chen, “The Strategic Features of Publishing Activities of Chinese Missionary Journals in Late Qing Dynasty”
  • Kaiwen Jin, “The Image of Taoism and Folk Belief in the Late Qing Dynasty and the Republican China—From the View of Intellectual Elites in Chengdu”
  • Xin Yang, “Taoism in the New Culture Invention Progress: A Landscape that the Statistic Analysis of Modern Newspapers and Periodicals Exposes”

Zi Chen, “An Ethnographical Study of the Producers of Paper—Offerings in Shandong Rural Society”

This essay is an ethnographical study of the producers of paper-offerings and their households, focusing on the roles played by these producers in the culture logics, social relationships, and religious life in the Chinese local society. Paper-offerings in Chinese belongs to a general category of traditional folk handicrafts and religious materials. They have been customarily used as a form of offering in funerary ceremonies and religious rituals staged for gods, ancestors, and ghosts in Han Chinese society since the Song Dynasty. The producers of paper-offerings could be regarded as craftsmen as well as “the household religious specialists”, and they play a key role to not only support the religious life in the village communities but also participate in the construction and function of the local societies. In the essay, I discuss the nature, characteristics, functions, and identities of the producers of paper-offerings, in order to understand the roles played and the position occupied by this group in the village communities, and the relationships between the people working on religious production and the local society, from the perspective of the producers of religious articles themselves and the villagers. I also compare the producers of paper-offerings to a larger group of household religious service providers (Chau 2006; 2010) to discern the operation of household religious service systems in the local society.

Kai Wang, “The Migration and Its Impacts of Jiangsu and Zhejiang Monks in Late Ming and Early Qing Dynasty”

The monks’ travelling around or migration is a long-established tradition of Buddhism. The social changes in Jiangsu and Zhejiang in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties gave this tradition lots of new characteristics: On the one hand, the changes in the political situation has made monks more and more concerned about their own survival and promoted secularisation of Buddhism. For example, the form of chanting gradually changed from catering to the tastes of intellectuals to satisfying the tastes of the masses, the economy of monasteries changed from relying on gentry class donations to relying on commercial operation, and the daily life of monks shifted from traditional meditation work to religious rite work; these efforts of Buddhist monks to actively take part in social affairs in their migration have made people in the middle and lower classes more and more involved in Buddhism, which has triggered the movement of Buddhist life. For example, in the funeral ritual, it changed from traditional burial to Buddhist cremation, in the concept of wealth from traditional self-sufficiency to the multi-sufficiency, and in daily life, it changed from focusing on the family to focusing on the neighbors. These interesting changes not only reflect the internal logic of the development of Chinese Buddhism, but also the diverse evolution of social beliefs during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Zhenzi Chen, “The Strategic Features of Publishing Activities of Chinese Missionary Journals in Late Qing Dynasty”

In the late Qing Dynasty, the publication of periodicals was one of the most influential activities of Western “Social Gospel” Protestant missionaries in China. This paper focuses on the “strategic” characters of these Chinese missionary journals published in the last 50 years of the late Qing Dynasty. The underlying assumption of the paper is that the “Social Gospel” faction in China was not only a theological direction but also a strategic choice to attract Chinese potential readership. Publishing of these journals as the main vehicle of “social gospel” should also be regarded as a strategic activity, to ensure the legitimacy of its existence, explore the needs and tastes of readers, seek economic self-support and maximise its role. Based on this assumption the following characters of these journals should be noticed and discussed: from the external perspective, these journals were strategically positioned in the interwoven social network of missionaries and secular world in China. From the internal perspective, the scientific, informational, and religious materials were strategically organised according to the changing situation. The Confucian discourses were strategically reconstructed to serve as a contrast and foil to Christianity. In the explanation of the nature of a journal, the missionaries combined this newly imported western medium with the tradition of collection of folk songs (采风) in ancient China at the political level. And the identification of missionaries themselves in the journals always swayed between western “scientists” and traditional Confucian scholars, but their identity as missionaries was always intentionally concealed.

Kaiwen Jin, “The Image of Taoism and Folk Belief in the Late Qing Dynasty and the Republican China—From the View of Intellectual Elites in Chengdu”

Under the impact of western culture in the late Qing Dynasty and the Republican China, the conflict between tradition and modernisation became more intense in China. Under such circumstance, Taoism, as a native religion, together with its related folk beliefs, suffered much more queries and criticism as never before from Chinese intellectuals. Although Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, was located in southwest China, which was more isolated and uninformed than the coastal areas in theory, and enjoyed a high status in Taoist history, many traditional concepts here were still greatly affected by western culture. Besides individual publications and local chronicles, the intellectual elites could express their various kinds of opinions through new media at that time like newspaper, magazine, and periodical, which were more popular and widespread than traditional ways. Most of them preferred to show their dissatisfaction, rather than sympathy to Taoism and were even more radical when talking about folk beliefs, though they sometimes admitted that the tradition did have its positive and valuable side.

Xin Yang, “Taoism in the New Culture Invention Progress: A Landscape that the Statistic Analysis of Modern Newspapers and Periodicals Exposes”

Newspapers and Periodicals were active media in the formation of new knowledge and common sense in Late Imperial China after 1840 and Republican China. It is not hard to figure out that when observing the concept, knowledge, belief, and mind change in the first half 20th century China, they are important sources. At the same time, as the new-emerging Digital Humanity approach rapidly developing, it exposed to us some new landscape. It is commonly agreed that Taoism was heavily criticised under the background of embracing modernity in the 20th century. However, when searching the keyword “Taoism” based on Quanguo baokan suoyin, a database that collects Newspaper and Periodicals from 1833–1951 and includes more than 50 million literature, it is surprising to notice that the keyword “Taoism” is no more often mentioned during 1910–1920, when the “New Culture Movement” that characterised itself as radically against “tradition occurred, than in 1930–1940. This article firstly tries to explain this phenomenon that why Taoism seemingly didn’t generate so much attention during the decade when it was supposed to be, but why suddenly more discussion in 1930–1940? Secondly, in the whole results, the two English publication: North-China Herald and Supreme Court & Consular Gazette, count nearly half of the total records mentioned “Taoism”. This article aims to compare the content emphasis difference between Chinese and English written world. In this way, through the lens of the important media at that time, it contributes to reveal position of Taoism in the so-called New Culture Invention Progress.

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Room F
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