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China Seminar

  • NIAS (room 18.1.08) 5 Øster Farimagsgade København K, 1353 Denmark (map)
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Comparative perspectives on the transformation of
religious space in China

This lecture will look into the transformation of religious space in the context of China’s recent transformation and globalization, with a special focus on the revival of popular religion and lineage tradition and its sociopolitical implications. Comparative perspectives will be invited to understand the nature and dynamics of this multifaceted process.


Welcome and opening remarks | Geir Helgesen

"Return of the Ancestors: Lineage Tradition in Southern Zhejiang" | Fan Lizhu

"Sinicization of Christianity and Overlapping Development" | Chen Na

"Cosmologies of the State in Contemporary China" | Mikkel Bunkenborg

Discussion | Open discussion between presenters and audience

Informal reception | Hosted by NIAS and the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies


“Sinicization of Christianity and Overlapping Development”
CHEN Na | Fudan University

This study proposes an “overlapping development” theory in understanding conversion and cultural changes with an emphasis of an emic perspective. Through the case of Li Village in central China and other cases, this study suggests that cultural change necessarily happens in an overlapping way, that is, the new version of a culture will necessarily overlap in one way or another with the old version from which it is derived. Therefore, when a group of indigenous converts develops a culture of “syncretism,” it should be taken as “a natural human phenomenon” and thus accepted and respected.

Professor Na Chen is a research fellow at the Fudan Development Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. He received his academic degrees from Peking University in China and the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University in the US. His research interests include sociology of religion, sociology of development and intercultural communication. He has published dozens of papers and book contributions, both in Chinese and in English. His recent research includes the study of “Confucian Congregation” in Southeast China, the revival of Confucianism and the reconstruction of Chinese identity, and the issue of “religion” and “superstition”.

“Return of the Ancestors: Lineage Tradition in Southern Zhejiang”
FAN Lizhu | Fudan University

This presentation based on the anthropological observation on lineage traditions in the Southern Zhejiang, the birthplace of China's private economy since the post-Mao reform. Many villages have now rebuilt their ancestral halls and recompiled their genealogies. The lineage tradition, which used to be considered as a lost Confucian cultural heritage, is clearly on the rise. The current revival of lineage tradition is not a simple return to the earlier pattern; instead it is closely related to local development, to specific social ties, to local political changes and to the globalization.

FAN Lizhu is a Professor of Sociology at Fudan University. Director of Globalization and Religious Studies at Fudan University. As a pioneer scholar on the study of sociologist of religion in China, she has engaged in historical and ethnographic studies of Chinese folk religious beliefs, sociological theories of religion, and the study of the trends of religious beliefs in modern Chinese society. She has published many academic publications both in Chinese and English. She taught at many distinguished universities in US and Europe. Now she focus on the studies on Globalization and Religious Transformation.

"Cosmologies of the State in Contemporary China"
Mikkel Bunkenborg | University of Copenhagen

Based on fieldwork in a rural township in Hebei Province, this presentation takes the revival of an annual temple fair as a point of departure for a discussion of the way the state is envisioned in popular religious movements. The relation between the state and popular religion is often described in terms of a metaphorical or oppositional logic that allows a clear separation between the modern state and the field of popular religion that has been allowed to resurface in the post-Mao era. Yet people who participate in popular religious movements often have a different take on the relation between state and religion, and exploring such local cosmologies of the state may help to shed light on the field of religion in contemporary China.

Mikkel Bunkenborg is Associate Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies of the University of Copenhagen and holds a PhD in Anthropology. His primary fields of research are contemporary Chinese society and the anthropology of the sinophone world, and he has published several articles and contributed to a number of books on the subject.

We welcome students, researchers and anyone else interested to participate. But please register no later than 29 January using the form below.

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