宗教人类学第二辑的英文原著

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Discussion for宗教人类学

Robert P. Weller, Boston University

 

Most of the world's social science is local. Most American specialists in Sociology or Politics, for example, study American society. The same is true in Europe, India, China, Brazil and every other country with developed social sciences--nearly everyone studies themselves. There are some compelling reasons for this. Policy makers want us to provide information to help them improve our lives. As natives, we also understand our own societies far more thoroughly in many ways than we can ever hope to understand another. And many social scientists are simply driven by curiosity about their own social experience.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful disadvantages to this local bias. An early teacher of mine illustrated this by asking our class to imagine a child who grew up in a room where everything was red. Even the windows were red so that the child never saw any other color. "What," he asked us, "would the child not understand?" The class quickly responded by naming all the other colors. "What else?" After some thought, one student finally answered: "The color red." The teacher's point was that even if our goal is to understand ourselves, we cannot achieve it without being able to see ourselves from the vantage point of others.

One of the dangers of looking only at ourselves is that we are tempted to think that we have developed theories of general human nature, even though they are based mostly on our own national case. Most theory today, in all the social sciences, stems primarily from Western experience. Only by looking from another vantage point, however, can we begin to see alternatives or to questions things that we would otherwise take for granted.

To a great extent, anthropology's contribution has come to be the ability to suggest fundamental alternatives to "global" theory built on Western experience alone. This goes back to the early days of the discipline, for example when Franz Boas undermined scientific racism by showing how head forms of immigrants changed after just a single generation in the United States. Or, to take another classic example, Malinowski questioned fundamental assumption of Freudian psychology when he asked, in his study of Trobriand kinship, how the Oedipus complex could make sense in a matrilineal society.

The five papers published here offer important insights of the same kind in the Chinese context. I will discuss three aspects of their contributions here: (1) the ways a global anthropology can help create insights about China; (2) the ways Chinese concepts help shape a new global anthropology; and (3) the potential importance of anthropology in creating a truly plural world, where harmony is possible in spite of difference.

A Global Anthropology for Chinese Social Science

Much of the basic social scientific vocabulary in Chinese stems from concepts developed in the West. This can sometimes be problematic. One key issue for all developing countries has been the idea of "civilization" and more recently of "modernity." Both concepts raise similar issues, which importantly include the problem of whether there is just one way to be civilized or modern. When Confucians of the Ming or Qing used the term文化, they saw only one way to be civilized. In a very different context, British imperialists in India used it in the nineteenth century with the same universalist implications. India, like modern China, responded with intense debates about the quality and status of its own claims to civilization. Later in the twentieth century, much the same debate took place over "modernity," with many Western scholars insisting in the 1950s and 1960s that any successful modernity could only look very much like the models of Britain and America--a single, universal modernity. That idea was undermined in the West in the 1970s, however, with theoretical arguments for alternative modernities (as Shmuel Eisenstadt made from Israel) and empirical evidence from places like Japan, which suddenly seemed to have achieved an alternative modernity.[1]

As China also wrestles with this issue, it is important to understand the empirical experience of other nations, even if China's own path to modernity will surely be unique. While none of the papers collected here are directly about China, many of them have important implications for how China might think about issues like national culture and civil society in the future. They show both how other developing countries deal with the same issues, and how many different solutions exist even within the countries we usually lump together as the "West." That is, they concretely illustrate some possible alternative modernities.

For example,龚浩群uses Dumont's idea of "homo hierarchicus" (阶序人), which he developed to show fundamental differences between Indian and European ideas of personhood. Gong draws on the idea to offer a creative alternative to the notion of civil religion公民宗教as it developed in studies primarily of American society. Gong argues that understandings of Thai Buddhism are always created in contrast to an imagined other, just as happens with the concept of "civilization." The Thai solution is to incorporate both its internal Buddhist and external non-Buddhist others, much as Dumont claims "hierarchy" works in India. This process is quite different from the imaginary of civil religion, which relies instead on the privatization of religion. China, of course, is very different from Thailand, and it certainly has no religious equivalent of the position that Buddhism occupies in Thailand. Thailand is thus not a potential model for China, but it does have an important lesson: that a vibrant civic culture need not follow the American model of "civil religion" at all.

吴晓黎's paper on India also raises the important problem of how we can understand religion in a modern society, and in particular how to understand the greatly increased popularity of the上师(guru) among the middle class in India today. Wu emphasizes the continuities that tie this form. of虔信牌(bhakti) to older traditions of印度教. Although we can see the appeals to the same pressures of modernity that have been identified in Europe, in this case they draw on resources for thinking about the individual and allowing religious choice that have long existed in Hinduism. We do not have a story of a change from社群宗教to实用宗教or私有化的宗教, but instead a change that involves much less of a break with the past. Much like Gong's Thai case, Wu here offers us an alternative way of thinking about how religion can be embedded in a modern society.

张金岭's case from France shows yet another kind of possibility. France is an extreme example of the separation of church and state. It is very different from the closer ties between government and religion that exist in Germany or Holland, and more radical even than the United States. Zhang argues that most people in France accept its basic principle oflaïcité(非宗教性质). At the same time, a kind of underlying Catholicism forms the basis of civic culture, even with the decline of institutional Catholic participation. Catholicism thus becomes a cultural legacy of French citizens in the eyes of many. One might also note the powerful legacy of the French Revolution of 1789, which gave everyone rights as an individual citizen, but gave no rights at all to people as members of religious or any other corporate groups apart from the state itself. The result, as Zhang points out, is the broad acceptance of a civic culture, but one that has created major problems for some groups that insist on maintaining a public corporate identity. This has been most obvious for Muslim immigrants, seen clearly in recent arguments about wearing the headscarf.

Both Gong and Zhang sketch some alternatives to ideas like the separation of church and state or the nature of civil religion. These will ultimately lead to a reconsideration of our theories, but also point to potentially useful policy directions for China and other places. More than that, all of the studies here show the importance of a specifically anthropological approach to international research, rather than allowing the field to be dominated by experts in international relations. Anthropologists typically root their understandings in concrete descriptions of ordinary people in specific places and times, and this will always be an important corrective to theories that take too much for granted.

Chinese Concepts for Global Use

The articles here also contribute by offering some theoretical contributions to global social science that have roots in China rather than Europe or America.  This tradition actually extends back a very long time in anthropology. The most famous example was probably Li An-che's 1935 field study of the Native American Zuni, in which he criticized other work on the same group by some of the most eminent American anthropologists of the time.[2] The article is wide-ranging, but includes a critique of the idea that Zuni ritualism is purely empty formalism. He does not mention China in this passage, but certainly echoes ideas that grow more out of Confucian ideas about ritual than out of the Protestant discomfort with ritual that characterized much American culture. In a later section on kinship, he does refer specifically to his experience growing up in a lineage-based society as part of his critique. This study continues to be cited as an early model of how our shared understandings can be enriched by bringing in a new point of view. That is, a global anthropology is not just good for China, but Chinese scholars doing global anthropology will alter the field as a whole.

The essays collected here all concentrate on issues of religion around the world, but "religion" itself is a deeply problematic concept. It took its modern form. only after the Reformation in Europe, and its evolution has been closely tied to ideas about Protestantism. The term“宗教”entered China in its modern form. only in the early twentieth century via Japanese translations of Western thought. This legacy has been difficult for anyone studying Chinese religion, because the term does not capture the range of spiritual behavior. in China very well. The Chinese-born but American-based sociologist杨庆堃was one of the first to attempt to create a new theoretical language to talk about how Chinese religions differed from those in the West. While both places had forms of what he called institutionalized religion, he argued that China also had a less institutional form, mixed in with daily life and morality. He called this "diffuse religion" (弥散性宗教).

While there has been some controversy over the concept of diffuse religion among scholars of Chinese religions, his term certainly captures aspects of Chinese religiosity that earlier definitions of religion did not. It is thus fascinating to see杨春宇turn the idea around and use it to describe Australian Christianity. She studied the Australian Uniting Church (澳大利亚联合教会), which was created relatively recently out of several mainstream denominations. The hope was to end the decline in formal religious participation that has characterized much of institutionalized religion in Europe and Australia for several decades. This did not succeed, but春宇argues that if we only look at the declining institutional statistics, like church attendance or belief in an afterlife, we will miss much of the significance of this church. Many of its activities extend far beyond the formal membership and beyond purely "religious" services. It thus has a broad cultural and moral significance very much parallel to杨庆堃's concept of diffuse religion. In contrast to some of the leading Western sociologists of religion (like Rodney Stark (罗德尼斯塔克), who concentrate only on the institutional features,杨春宇thus adds a concept developed for China to our general vocabulary to discuss religion anywhere in the world.

We can see a very different application of a Chinese concept in李荣荣's study of Grace Church (主恩教会) in the United States. Li directs our attention, among other things, to the bodily experience of belief that is so important in some forms of Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism (五旬节教派). Why have Anglo-American scholars of Christianity paid so little attention to this, and so much more to fine points of theology and social organization?[3] Perhaps the answer is that English has no natural equivalent of the Chinese contrast between体验and经验. Of course it is possible to find ways to express this in English, but it has not been so obvious to scholars. Althoughdoes not highlight the point, the article makes clear that scholars coming from outside the English-language cultural sphere can lead the entire field in new directions.

How is it possible to develop these insights further, to move them from some interesting articles into the broader discourse of a global social science? This is not at all an easy problem. In some ways it is our own version of the problem of alternative modernities: is there one global social science or are there different social sciences for different places? I would suggest that there are elements of both, that we all gain from a dialog between local social scientific traditions and the attempt at a shared body of theory.

One important way in which anthropologists have carried out that dialog is at home, in their own departments. Each of us as scholars carries some responsibility for knowing and respecting the local social scientific discourses of the places we study. For me this means knowing the important literature being written by Chinese scholars; for the authors of these papers, it means knowing the scholarship from Australia, France, Thailand, and the United States. This is why it is so important for anthropology departments to have scholars working in many parts of the globe. We can sometimes be forced to think about a problem in a new way just by talking to the person in the office next door.

This dialog needs to take place globally as well, as we interact with each other at meetings and especially in publication. Yet we also need to recognize real barriers to this conversation as well, especially the problem of language. English has long been the dominant language of global social science, but this poses obvious problems for scholars who work in other languages. It is not reasonable (or just) to expect Chinese, Thai, or Mexican anthropologists to publish all their work in English. How then can we keep the dialog going? Translation has long been crucial, and will continue to be a major contribution. Due to the unequal structure of the field, however, much more is translated from European languages to Chinese than the other way around. Yet Chinese scholars, and those of many other nations, have much to contribute to a global conversation, as I have been suggesting. In spite of the difficulties, it remains important to publish at least some material in English where the broadest community of scholars will have access. At the same time, it is important for foreign scholars to read and publish in Chinese where possible. This issue of宗教人类学is thus especially significant as one example of how we might proceed.

We know from history that some concepts from the developing world have become accepted parts of global social science. Some obvious examples from recent decades include dependency theory, which developed in South America, and subaltern theory, which developed in India. This trend will surely continue in the future.

Crossing Boundaries

The experience of working outside one's home area, beyond the places where we live and think comfortably, has long been central to anthropology. 李荣荣's article is especially clear about this, in its discussion of wavering (徘徊) between belief and doubt, idea and action, and so forth. Long-term fieldwork in a foreign place encourages this feeling of liminality. It is often an unpleasant position to be in, but it is crucial for anthropology, and perhaps for humanity as a whole.

One anthropological argument for studying others is that旁观者清, and this does express a partial truth. Only partial, of course, because standing outside makes it much more difficult to achieve the intimate knowledge that we hope for. Even more importantly, however, the effort to understand people quite different from us is the only way we can achieve a true pluralism. Pluralism means recognizing that others may differ from us in fundamental values and behaviors, while still being willing to deal with them as equals. That is, we need to recognize and respect the boundaries that separate us, but we also need to be able to cross over those boundaries. Boundaries should be like cells walls, which separate but allow constant crossing back and forth, rather than brick walls, which attempt to stop all flows across.

A truly global social science can achieve that for us at a theoretical level, just as anthropologists can experience it more directly through the体验offieldwork. The articles here each make important contributions to their own fields, but taken as a whole, they also mark an important direction for Chinese and global social science.



[1]Eisenstadt, S. N. "Multiple Modernities."Daedalus129.1 (Winter 2000): 1-29.

[2]Li, An-che, "Zuni: Some Observations and Queries."American Anthropologist39:62-76, 1937.

[3]The most important exception is Thomas J. Csordas, "Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology." Ethos18:5-47, 1990.

 

 

 

 

Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation.Edited by Mayfair Mei-

           hui Yang. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008.

 

           Mayfair Mei-hui Yang begins the introduction toChinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formationby honing in on a mindset that is expressed frequently in contemporary China, at least among the urban elite; it is a view that China does not have religion and never did, and that, “Chinese people have always been pragmatic and secular, even in imperial times. It is symptomatic of the cultural amnesia that has beset China rendering many Chinese unaware of the vast modern efforts to demonize and eradicate the rich religious life that was long an integral part of China” (1). The essays inChinese Religiositiesdo not attempt to rediscover this “rich religious life” that modern governments have attempted to eradicate. That is to say the twelve authors of this volume do not spend much time engaged in detailed descriptions of living religious traditions (other than their interactions with the government), documentation of intricate ritual practices, analysis of the multiple semantic layers found in Buddhist or Daoist scriptures, or in faithfully recording the views and insights of religious participants and the faithful.

           Instead,Chinese Religiositiessheds light on “the vast modern efforts” of the political and cultural elite in China––intellectuals, government officials, and religious leaders––mostly from the late Qing dynasty up to the present, though some of the essays dig back further into the historical record to reveal the deeper structures and discourses that continue to influence government responses to religion and policies governing it. Rather than merely studying the “empirical changes that Chinese religious life underwent in modernity” (2), the central question motivating the volume’s authors – historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and religious studies scholars – is this: “...what were the self-understandings and historical discourses that propelled these changes in Chinese society, and what historical conditions gave rise to these discourses and collective actions?” (2) According to Yang, what brought about the emergence of modernity as a way of thinking about the cosmos, history, and religion was the introduction to China of ideas stemming from the eighteenth century European Enlightenment. These ideas, which emphasized the rational subject instead of divine forces and royal sovereignty, first took root in China during the nineteenth century in the thinking of reformist Chinese intellectuals, but the full force of their impact was felt most strongly in the twentieth century. Modernity in China became synonymous with the European Enlightenment, secularization, and an opposition to traditional ways of life.

           One of the goals ofChinese Religiosities, particularly when viewed through the lens of Yang’s introduction, is to serve as a critique of this notion of modernity, which to this day continues to animate the discourse of many Chinese intellectuals and the policies of the government. The real culprit seems to be secularization, which as Yang explains:

           ...is usually understood as the process whereby traditional religious orientations, rituals, and   institutions lose their grip on social life, no longer seem viable in modern urban,           industrial,    and commercial society, and gradually decline. Secularization can also mean that religious           impulses retreat from modern institutions, which become functionally specialized (e.g.,      political organizations, educational institutions, social welfare agencies, and economic      enterprises), so that religion is henceforth exercised only in the private sphere, or in specialized religious organizations (4).

 

Yang sees secularization as a key factor in understanding the rise of the modern state and argues that it is responsible for many of the negative effects of modernity, which at least in part, were byproducts of “the severing of cultures from their historical embeddedness in religious, ritual, and cosmological systems” (4). She is critical of scholars who “continue to embrace secularism...without reflection or reexamination” (6-7).  

           During the transformation that led to the secularization of social and political life in China, another trend was at work; Western – particularly Christian – notions of religion, infiltrated the thinking of Chinese intellectuals and influenced the religious policies of the government. The very term “religion” was a western import. China’s indigenous “religions,” such as Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, were recast as world religions based on criteria derived from Christianity. Prasenjit Duara describes the efforts of reformers such as Kang Youwei and his followers, who in their attempts to establish Confucianism as a national religion, derived a model of citizenship based on their understanding of Christianity. Christianity, according to Duara, influenced Jiang Jieshi’s (Chiang Kai-shek) New Life Movement, which was modeled on the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) movement. As Vincent Goossaert demonstrates in chapter 8, beginning in 1912, Daoist, Buddhist, Confucian, and Muslim associations came into being, which adopted the organizational structures of Christian churches. These associations were in line with newly fashioned government policies, “...in which a ‘religion’ had to conform. to a Western, Christian-based model to be recognized by the state and protected by law...” (215). To this day, such associations continue to oversee organized religious life in China. One might even explore how the religious organizations in contemporary Taiwan, which Richard Madsen discusses in his chapter, modeled themselves structurally on Christian organizations. In his essay on heterodoxy in twentieth China, David Palmer shows how the government discourse concerning cults in contemporary China, while employing ancient terminology, also articulates western psychological narratives that are derived from Christianity.

           This shift did not occur overnight; rather, in the early stages, as several of the authors point out, the government and those opposed to the government began by co-opting religious traditions, deity cults, and secret societies. During the latter years of the Qing dynasty, for instance, modernizers still relied on imperial symbolism and cosmology, state cult worship, and ritual practices traditionally conducted by the emperor, even as they altered them to fit a nationalist and modernist vision (Kuo). However, by the 1920s and 1930s, “...officials of the Chinese Nationalist Party and its government sought to reshape the temporal and spatial landscape by banning temple festivals and holidays of the lunar calendar and replacing them with civic ceremonies of their own design” (Nedostup, 88). This reshaping of the temporal and spatial landscape, marked by the banning of traditional temple festivals and holidays, as well as a general anti-religious tendency influenced by “scientism, evolutionism, and nationalism,” took root following the collapse of the Qing dynasty, particularly during the May Fourth Movement, and culminated in the full-fledged attack on religious life that occurred during the Cultural Revolution.

           The authors ofChinese Religiositiesshould be commended for the freshness of approach and the mastery that each of the authors has demonstrated in the face of complicated subject matter. I would, however, like to raise a few issues, which do not necessarily detract from the book’s overall value in providing insight into the interplay between religion and religious policy in modern China, but hopefully will serve as questions for the authors and readers of this book to consider. Much of this volume, as I see it, is concerned with how the views of Chinese intellectuals became government policies, which then transformed religious life in China, influenced the organization of religious communities, and sought to remold the Chinese citizenry minus what were seen as backward ways. Were the reformers successful? Was the spatial and temporal landscape completely reshaped? What about those “religions” that did not conform. to a Christian model? Is religion only exercised in the private sphere in China, Taiwan, and other Chinese societies?

           In the case of Taiwan, for instance, one might ask if there really ever was a “severing of cultures from their historical embeddedness in religious, ritual, and cosmological systems.” Perhaps such a severing did take place for the “Mainlanders” who came to the island in 1949 and for many of the inhabitants of urban areas in Taiwan, particularly in Taipei, where temple festivals have been marginalized in recent years. However, religious processions associated with one or another deity cult are frequently on display even in Taiwan’s capital city, and even more so beyond the boundaries of the city, where Daoist priests, Buddhist monks, spirit mediums, and other ritual specialists play their roles in the performance of rituals, which attract large numbers of local and nonlocal participants. Temple festivals still have significance in people’s lives despite efforts by the government to create a new and modern citizenry. In China, as well, since the 1980s and 90s there has been a great resurgence of ritual activity. Temples have reopened, individuals have taken the vows to enter monastic life, and mainly in rural areas, local ritual specialists have revived the practices passed down to them from their ancestors.

           To her credit, Mayfair Yang focuses on one such deity cult in Taiwan, dedicated to the maritime goddess, Mazu, which she uses to analyze...the complex interactions among the forces of nation-state, popular religion, media capitalism, and gendered territorialization as these are inflected across the Taiwan Strait(323). Unfortunately, Yang focuses her analysis only on Zhenlangong (鎮瀾宮, Zhenlan Temple), albeit an important Mazu temple, and thereby privileges the views of the temples chairman, Yan Qingbiao顏清標, who she describes primarily as a religious figure as opposed to a political one, and:...whose betel-nut chewing and heavy Taiwanese accent marked him as a man of the common people(328). It is understandable why Yang chooses Yan Qingbiao, since he was challenging the government of Chen Shuibian陳水扁, who was inaugurated as president in May 2000. Yan was also advocating for adirect religious sealink(zongjiao zhihang宗教直航) between Taiwan and Fujian. However, certain historical details are left out of this description of Yan Qingbiao. Is he really only a manifestation of popular religion? Can one really discuss the ways that the governments in Taiwan and China are co-opting popular religion in Taiwan without also noting the ways that Yan has done so himself? Before he became temple chairman, for instance, Yan had been Speaker of the Taichung (Taizhong) County Council and he currently serves as a member of Taiwans legislature, a position, as Yang notes, to which he was elected from prison. Moreover, while Yang does mention Yans support for presidential candidate Song Chuyu宋楚瑜in the 2000 election, she plays down evidence that reveals Yan to be a political actor and his alleged connections to organized crime as simplypublic speculationwithout looking into the actual historical and journalistic record prior to the 1990s.[1]Yang does this, in my view, to reinforce her interpretation of the fight between Zhenlangong and the Chen Shuibian administration as an opposition between popular religion and the state. This back and forth, in my view, should be seen also as a battle between two opposing political blocks, a battle which plays out continuously in multiple spheres of Taiwanese society, including popular religion, the media, and the government itself. This battle between Green (the Democratic Progressive Party and its allies) and Blue (the Guomindang and its allies) forces is central to the story of modernity in Taiwan. Despite these criticisms, Yang’s essay provides a fascinating account of the relations between politics, religion, and the media in the context of cross Strait relations, and serves nicely to conclude an excellent and important volume.

 

Eli Alberts

Institute of Ethnology

Academia Sinica



[1]See, for instance, the description of Yan Qingbiao and Taichung County in Ko-lin Chin,Heijin: Organized Crime, Business, and Politics in Taiwan(New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2003), 88-92.

 

 

 

Chang Hsun張珣Wenhua Mazu: Taiwan Mazu xinyang yanjiu lunwenji

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