Protest as Community Revival: Folk Religion in a Taiwanese Anti-Pollution Movement

in African and Asian Studies
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Abstract

By analyzing a Taiwanese anti-pollution movement, this paper tries to shed light on the elements of folk religion in collective action. The Houchin protest took place in 1987 when local people opposed to the further expansion of the China Petroleum Company (CPC). This case is an important milestone in the history of Taiwanese environmentalism and famous for its persistent protest over three years. In order to see how a local community sustains its solidarity through localistic folk religion, it is worth taking a close look at the community structure prior to the protest mobilization. The next section discusses Houchin people's reaction to the CPC's upgrading plan. Here the anti-pollution protest is viewed as an emergency occasion to revive the communal solidarity. Religion permeates the whole process of their collective action by supplying ritualized forms of contention. Religion in action is more than an instrument for mobilization, but rather substantially affects the movement goal and meaning for the participants. These highly localistic messages often escape outsiders' observation. In conclusion, the paper discusses the discovery in the light of study on Taiwanese environmental movement.

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