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Negotiating Religion in Modern China

State and Common People in Guangzhou, 1900–1937

By Shuk-wah Poon

Publication Year: 2010

Negotiating Religion in Modern China traces the history of the Chinese state's relationship with religion from 1900 to 1937. The revolutionary regime condemned religious practice in the early twentieth century, suppressing "superstitious" belief in favor of a secular, more enlightened society. Drawing on newspapers and unpublished official documents, this book focuses on the case of Guangzhou, largely because of the city's sustained involvement in the revolutionary quest for a "new" China. The author pays particular attention to the implementation of policy and citizens' attempts at adaptation and resistance.

Published by: Chinese University Press

Half Title

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pp. 1-2


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pp. 3-3


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pp. 4-4


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pp. v-vi

List of Maps and Figures

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pp. vii-8

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pp. ix-10

My deepest gratitude goes to Hung Chang-tai, my thesis supervisor and mentor, without whose guidance and encouragement my academic journey would not have been so rewarding and fulfilling. I also wish to thank Choi Chi-cheung and Liu Tik-sang, my two other teachers at the...

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pp. 1-15

Most Chinese children hear the story of Sun Yat-sen’s vandalism of temple deity images when they are in primary school. They learn from their teachers or from their textbooks that when still a young boy, Sun, “the father of the Chinese Republic,” made a courageous attempt to civilize...

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1. Collapse of the Imperial Order

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pp. 17-39

The relationship between the state and the religious culture of the common people underwent significant changes in the last decade of the Qing dynasty, as the imperial order collapsed. The challenges that popular religion faced in modern China, including the government’s expropriation...

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2. Religion and State-making in the Early 1920s

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pp. 41-65

The mutually constitutive relationship between popular religion and the political regime was undermined as a result of the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 because the new regime no longer derived its political legitimacy from supernatural forces, such as the Mandate of Heaven. In...

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3. Politicizing Superstition and Remaking Urban Space

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pp. 67-91

Sun Yat-sen’s military success over the Merchant Corps in late 1924 consolidated Nationalist rule in Guangzhou, thus transforming the rebellious city into “the cradle of revolution.” The Northern Expedition launched in July 1926 eventually led to the establishment of the central...

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4. Refashioning Rituals and Festivals

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pp. 93-116

Modern regimes are marked by their aspiration to forge national unity by creating a new political culture, with new civic rituals and festivals as the crucial ingredients. Civic rituals and festivals, which usually take the form of commemorative days, serve the function of transforming passive...

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5. Government and the Remaking of Religion inthe 1930s

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pp. 117-143

The crumbling of the Qing Empire in the early twentieth century and Republican China’s struggle to become a modern nation-state brought an end to the interlocking relationship between political and divine power. The emergence of anti-superstition rhetoric and new intellectual trends...

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Conclusion. Negotiating Religion in Republican Chinese Cities

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pp. 145-155

During the construction of the mausoleum for Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing in 1928, many children in the city died of measles. Public hysteria broke out in Nanjing and later spread to Shanghai because of the belief that the mausoleum was capturing children’s souls and that one thousand...


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pp. 157-182


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pp. 183-199


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pp. 201-208

E-ISBN-13: 9789629969288
Print-ISBN-13: 9789629964214

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: N
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 868220746
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Negotiating Religion in Modern China

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Subject Headings

  • Guangzhou (China) -- Religious life and customs.
  • Religion and state -- China -- Guangzhou.
  • Superstition -- China -- Guangzhou.
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