Tapp, “Religious Issues in China’s Rural Development: The Importance of Ethnic Minorities”

Tapp, Nicholas. 2014.  Religious Issues in China’s Rural Development: The Importance of Ethnic Minorities. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15(5):433-452.

Abstract: This paper considers Chinese religion in relation to the changing nature of rural society and modernisation. Rural/urban distinctions are questioned, while the realities of religious differences between them are affirmed. Development is related to modernisation and multiple sources of Chinese modernity are considered. Religion is examined in terms of its tendencies towards diversification and capacity to embody visions of an alternative moral order. Some aspects of ethnic minority religion and its renewal are introduced, with reference to the ethnography of the Hmong, to show that minority religious issues can reflect broader religious issues in China. Geomancy and ancestral worship are shared by Hmong and Han Chinese. In conclusion it is argued that religion is increasingly presented as cultural in China through a process of ‘folklorisation’, which in the larger sense may not be problematic, yet important aspects of spirituality are lost which may find expression in mass Christian conversions.

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