Chinese Socialism and the Household Idiom of Religious Engagement
The conventional approach to studying the impact of Maoism on the Chinese religious landscape (henceforth “Chinese religionscape,” defined here as the totality of the articulations between religious conceptions and practices and their conditions of possibility) focuses on the policies during the Maoist period directly and explicitly relating to the management, control and suppression of religious institutions, personnel and activities. This includes the analyses of, for example, the establishment of the state bureaucratic organs in charge of the officially recognized religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism); the anti-religion/anti-traditionalist policies that aimed at eradicating not only the so-called “feudal superstitions” but also, at the height of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, the entirety of religion as a domain of social and personal life; the opportunistic deployment of certain religious traditions in the service of international diplomacy (e.g. Buddhism in dealing with Japan and the Buddhist countries of South and Southeast Asia and Islam in dealing with Islamic countries in the Middle East and later in the post-Soviet Central Asia). Part of this approach of course is a description and analysis of how different “religions” responded to the challenges, suppression and manipulation. There are three inter-related problems with such an approach.
KeywordsReligious Practice Religious Activity Religious Institution Chinese Religion Poor Peasant
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