Saving Deities for the Community: Religion and the Transformation of Associational Life in Southern Zhejiang, 1949-2014

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Saving Deities for the Community: Religion and the Transformation of Associational Life in Southern Zhejiang, 1949-2014

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Title: Saving Deities for the Community: Religion and the Transformation of Associational Life in Southern Zhejiang, 1949-2014
Author: WANG, XIAOXUAN ORCID  0000-0003-2543-7850
Citation: WANG, XIAOXUAN. 2015. Saving Deities for the Community: Religion and the Transformation of Associational Life in Southern Zhejiang, 1949-2014. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Access Status: This work is under embargo until 2020-02-03
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Abstract: My dissertation examines the post-1949 transformation of religious and
organizational culture in rural Ruian County of the Wenzhou region, Zhejiang. It explores
the diversified adaptation patterns adopted by rural religious organizations in order to
preserve, reinvent and even expand themselves in the volatile sociopolitical environment
of post-1949 China. Based on hitherto unexploited government documents collected from
local state archives, memoirs, historical accounts of religious organizations, as well as
extensive oral interviews with Ruian residents, I demonstrate that, rather than following a
linear and uniform decline that conventional wisdom suggests, religious organizations
took divergent paths in Ruian during the Maoist era. The level of religious activities in
Ruian and many regions of Zhejiang exhibited fluctuations over time rather than a linear
downward movement. The Maoist period, I argue, was both destructive and constructive
for religion. By stripping religious organizations of their traditional leadership and
economic foundation, Maoist campaigns inadvertently accelerated the organizational
reinvention of Chinese religions. Even more far-reaching, the Cultural Revolution
dramatically stimulated a quick rise of Protestantism vis-à-vis other religions and
fundamentally reshaped the religious landscape in parts of China, making China no
exception to the global trend of religious resurgence, despite its isolation at the time.
Religion in today’s China and related phenomena, in particular the uneven distribution of
religious revival, the development patterns of rural organizations, and state-religion
relations, cannot be fully explained without reference to the Maoist legacy.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23845455
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