Religion and Locality in the Chinese World

CIW Workshop


Sparke Helmore Law Theatre 2, ANU College of Law (6a), Fellows Road, ANU


Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 - 09:00 to Wednesday, 28 August, 2013 - 17:15

This workshop will explore histories of how religion is created, transmitted, embodied and changed in specific locations in late imperial, modern and contemporary China and Taiwan. Taking not only temples, mosques, churches, schools, tea houses, festival sites, burial grounds and shrines as the locus of research, but also cities, neighbourhoods, counties and districts, it will explore the rich, and often overlooked, details that populate the lived experience of religious activity. Seeking to focus on interactions between place, text and individual agency, we aim to reflect on the layered and specific histories that develop as a consequence of this interplay. Through reducing the scale to a specific locale, phenomena such as religious change, conversion practice, and individual transformation can be reappraised.

Questions to consider may include: How do the particular circumstances of time and place shape religious experience? What is specific to a location that influences the nature of religious practice there? What religious power is embodied in a place? How is the power created or maintained? How are narratives created around a location? How are locations represented in oral and printed media? What is characteristic of the religious world in a particular place? How do the defining religious features of a locality originate?

Seeking to enhance scholarship about place and religion in China and Taiwan, we request work informed by microhistory and theories of the everyday that offer alternative perspectives on the sacred world. In doing this, we will explore the idea that religious experience is not homogenous across geography, and that even comparatively small distances can produce meaningful differences in institutions and practices. Through sharpening the focus of research to a county, district, neighbourhood, or particular numinous site we also hope to examine the relations between particular places and institutions of authority based locally or distantly.


Download the program and abstracts

Monday 26 August



Drinks Reception

Welcome Remarks


Keynote Public Lecutre

Prof Chen Jidong (Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo)

In Search of Shakyamuni's Scriptures – The Formation of Modern Buddhist Studies and Sino-Japanese Exchange


Tuesday 27 August


Taiwan's Aboriginal Religions

Prof Hu Tai-Li (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica)
The Decline and Revitalization of Shamanic Traditions in a Paiwan Village in Taiwan

Prof Benoit Vermander (Xu-Ricci Research Center, Department of Religious Studies Fudan University)
Religion as Local Knowledge: Millet and Rituals among Taiwan's Aboriginal Populations

Ms Hsiang Yun Hung (Vavauni Ljajegengan) (Austronesian Studies, National Taitung University)
Indigenous Religion and Spirituality as a Neglected Factor in Disaster Relief: the case of Typhoon Morakot and the Paiwan people of southern Taiwan

Morning Tea



Mr Tenzin Mullin (via skype) (Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago)
The changing names and shifting narratives of Baoguo Monastery(Emei Shan, Sichuan China

Ms Luo Weiwei (Department of History, Columbia University)
"For Our Permanent State": Monastic Authority and Its Neighbors

Mr Roger Casas (Department of Anthropology, School of Culture, History and Languages, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU)
Inferential Analogy and its Consequences: Monastic Mobility and the Production of Locality among the Tai Lue of Sipsong Panna (P. R. China)



Movie: Eclipse of the Gods 神​翳
Film details from a previous screening

Afternoon Tea



Dr Benjamin Penny (Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU)
Itinerating: Missionaries Inside and Outside the British Settlement at Shanghai

Dr Kao Chen-yang (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica)
Women's Power in the Absence of Church: the Feminization of a Local Protestant Religious Field during China's Cultural Revolution



Keynote Public Lecutre

Dr David A. Palmer (Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong)
Locality, Globalization and the Construction of Sacrality: Transnational Encounters at Huashan



Wednesday 28 August



Dr Huang Yueh-Po (Independent) (via Skype)
Political Economy, Colonial Encounter and Inculturation: the Case of A Japanese New Religious Movement in Taiwan

Prof Chang Hsun (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica
A Re-Emergence Temple: Case Study of Fengtian Temple in Taiwan

Mr Paul J. Farrelly (Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU)
Singing Your Own Song? Terry Hu, the Colombia Café, Idea House and the Campus Folk Music Origins of Taiwan's New Age

Morning Tea



Prof Vincent Ho (History Department, University of Macau)
Religious Transformation and Locality in the Historic Center of Macau: An Interplay of a Secularized Society within a Sacred Religious Built Environment

Ms Li Geng (Department of Anthropology, School of Culture, History and Languages, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU)
Doing Superstition in Post-Reform China in a Communist Party "Old Revolutionary Base"

Ms Tiffany Cone (Department of Anthropology, School of Culture, History and Languages, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU)
City of Saints: Linxia as the 'centre' of Qadiriyya Sufism in Northwest China




Dr Yu Hua (Institute of Linguistics, Shanghai International Studies University) (via Skype)
Interweaving the Past into the Present: Ritual, Cat Blood and A Hill

Dr Nathan Woolley (Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU)
Creating and Maintaining Sacred Places: Chinese Mountains in Changing Contexts

Afternoon Tea

Hosted by Dr Benjamin Penny




Jasmine Lin
02 6125 7086

Venue map

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