Speaker: Weishan Huang, Assistant Professor, Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
This presentation examines the process of revival of Mahayana Buddhist communities in contemporary Shanghai. The rival was accelerated by state-planned urbanization during the last three decades. After examining data from 120 temples together with ethnographic research from 10 case studies, the author uncovers two dynamics of social change. First, an increasing divide between Buddhist religious and educational temple spaces in the city center and in suburban areas caused by political constructions can be detected. A new drive of gentrification generates different physical and social transformations in the surrounding neighbourhoods. In this process, new relationships are created between religious clergy, land developers, and lay practitioners. Secondly, caused by the new modes of social organization and city planning, the rise of a non-monastic socially engaged Buddhist movement, the Tzu Chi Foundation, has attracted young middle-class urban inhabitants. Based on ethnographic material, the second part of the talk aims to analyze the localization of this lay women-led movement. The author argues that the successful structural adaption of the Tzu Chi movement corresponds with the promotion of a socially engaged Buddhism that aligns itself with policies and interests of the state. In addition, the timely change of organizational missions of the movement corresponds with shifts of the social identity of urban residents from “Work Units” to “Communities” in urban Shanghai.
Huang Weishan received both her MA and PhD degrees in Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York. Her Ph.D. research focused on the studies of ethnic Chinese religious movement organizations, including the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades, the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and Falun Gong, both in New York City as well as their transnational networks. She also participated in the Gateway Project and the Ecologies of Learning Project in New York City.
25.04.2019 | 12:00 c.t.
Neubau "Holzlaube", Room 2.2051