Global Religious Changes and Social Life in China and Taiwan

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Talk by Robert Weller, Boston University

Thursday, October 09, 2014
4:00 PM - 5:30 AM
Bunche Hall 10383

This talk discusses four of the most important global trends in religion as they have affected Taiwan and China's Jiangsu Province: the removal of religion from politics (secularization), the attempt to confine it to a purely religious sphere (religionization), the increased interest in textual authority and religious self-consciousness (rationalization), and an increase in the direct physical manifestations of belief through unmediated physical experience (embodiment). A comparison of the two cases shows the importance of global trends and local culture over the century-long political divergence that separates them. It also helps explain the different trajectories of Buddhism, temple religion, and Christianity in the two places, and the potentials of those religions to contribute to civil life.

Robert P. Weller is Professor of Anthropology and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University. His most recent book is Rethinking Pluralism: Ritual, Experience, and Ambiguity (with Adam Seligman, 2012), which focuses on ways in which we can live with the ambiguities that necessarily accompany our need to categorize, and on the implications of this for how we can live with difference. Earlier books include Discovering Nature: Globalization and Environmental Culture in China and Taiwan (2006) and Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity (2008, co-author). His present research examines the role of religion in creating public social benefits in Chinese communities in China, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Part of the Civility and Civil Society in Taiwan Lecture Series, Taiwan Spotlight project

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Published: Monday, October 13, 2014