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Standardization, Bureaucratization, and Convergence: The Transformation of Governance of Religion in Urbanizing China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2021

Xiaoxuan Wang*
Affiliation:
Xiaoxuan Wang (xiaoxuan@alumni.harvard.edu) is an independent scholar and the author of Maoism and Grassroots Religion (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Abstract

This article explores critical shifts in the governance of religion amid massive urbanization and technological advances in contemporary China. Since the turn of the millennium, along with rapid urban transformation, the Chinese state has greatly expanded its reach into and surveillance of religious communities. At the same time, tensions between state initiatives and religious communities have come to the forefront of public attention. So far, scholarly attention has mostly focused on the repression of religious communities, especially Christians. The goal of this article is to highlight broader transitions in the ways religion is governed in China and to reflect on how these transitions should be understood alongside the government's social and political agendas. The advancement of technologies and the extension of the bureaucratic system to maintain control of a rapidly urbanizing society, I argue, have brought about a “technological turn” of secularism in China, which will have a far-reaching impact on religious life.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2021

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