This paper critically assesses leading research on Taiwanese popular religion published during the past two decades, including by historians of religion and social scientists. It pays special attention to the challenges (and opportunities) provided by the study of Taiwan’s vibrant religious traditions, which have produced a wealth of textual materials yet can also be researched by using ethnographic methods and collecting survey data. Another conundrum that Taiwanese scholars face involves how to effectively utilise the ever-increasing body of data about religious life in modern Chinese history and among Chinese communities throughout the world. The review’s scope centres on research results from the past 20 years that examine temple cults and festivals; it will not discuss Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and other foreign religions, as well as the religions practiced by Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. However, it will occasionally mention scholarship on voluntary religious movements, especially those that perform spirit-writing rituals.
AllioFiorella (2003) ‘Spatial organization in a ritual context: A preliminary analysis of the Koah-hiun processional system of the Taiwan region and its social significance’ in LinMei-rong (ed) Beliefs Ritual and Society: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Sinology Academia SinicaTaipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica131–177.
BroyNikolas (2012) ‘Secret societies, Buddhist fundamentalists, or popular religious movements? Aspects of zhaijiao in Taiwan’ in KeRuopu (ed) Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions (中國民間宗教、民間信仰研究之中歐視角)Taipei: Boyoung Publishing329–369.
ChangHsun (2003b) ‘Breaking circles: From “ritual spheres” to “post ritual spheres”’ (打破圈圈：從「祭祀圈」到「後祭祀圈」) in ChiangTs’an-t’eng and ChangHsun (eds) Searching for the Paradigm: New Perspectives on Taiwan Religious Studies (台灣本土宗教研究的新視野和新思維)Taipei: smc Publishing 63–107.
ChenShih-jung (陳世榮) (2001) ‘Local elites and the “public sphere” in northern Taoyuan during the Qing Dynasty’ (清代北桃園的地方菁英及「公共領域」)National Chengchi University Historical Journal (國立政治大學歷史學報)18: 203–242.
ChingMay-bo (程美寶) (1996) ‘Literary, ethnic, or territorial? Definitions of Guangdong culture in the late Qing and early Republic’ in LiuTao Tao and FaureDavid (eds) Unity and Diversity. Local Cultures and Identities in ChinaHong Kong: Hong Kong University Press51–66.
ChungYun-ying (鍾雲鶯) (2015) ‘Saving inner nature and vital force and the dual cultivation of sacred and secular: Yiguandao’s concept of entering the world as self-cultivation’ (救性、救命與聖凡雙修：一貫道的入世修行觀)Studies in Chinese Religions (華人宗教研究)6(6): 27–58.
ClartPhilip (2009) ‘Merit beyond measure: Notes on the moral (and real) economy of religious publishing in Taiwan’ in ClartPhilip and CrowePaul (eds) The People and the Dao: New Studies of Chinese Religions in Honour of Prof. Daniel L. OvermyerSankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica127–142.
DeanKenneth and ZhengZhenman (2010) Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain Volume 1: Historical Introduction to the Return of the Gods and Volume 2: A Survey of the Village Temples and Ritual ActivitiesLeiden and Boston: Brill.
HsuYu-tsuen (徐雨村) (2016) ‘Recognition, designation, and local practice of “folk custom and related cultural artifacts”: An example of “Yunlin Liu Fang Ma Guolu”’ (「民俗及有關文物」登錄指定與地方實踐：以「雲林六房媽過爐」為例)Minsu quyi192: 221–265.
JansenThomas; KleinThoralf and MeyerChristian (eds) (2014) Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions Local Agents and the Study of Religion 1800-PresentLeiden: Brill.
JordanDavid K. (1994) ‘Changes in postwar Taiwan and their impact on the popular practice of religion’ in HarrellStevan A. and HuangChün-chieh (eds) Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan Boulder co: Westview Press137–160.
KatzPaul R. (2012) ‘An unbreakable thread? Preliminary observations on the interaction between Chinese and Taiwanese religious traditions under Japanese colonial rule’Research on Taiwan Religion (臺灣宗教研究)11(2): 39–70.
KatzPaul R. (2014b) ‘Illuminating goodness: Some preliminary considerations of religious publishing in modern China’ in ClartPhilip and ScottGregory Adam (eds) Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China 1800–2012Boston and Berlin: De Gruyter265–294.
LinMei-rong and HsuKu-ming (許谷鳴) (2016) ‘Belief spheres of the Guandu Mazu cult’ (關渡媽祖的信仰圈) in LinMei-rongChangHsun and TsaiHsiang-hui (eds) Developments and Changes in the Cult of Mazu—Proceedings of the International Conference on the Cult of Mazu and Modern Society (媽祖信仰的發展與演變—媽祖信仰與現代社會國際研討會論文集)Taipei: Taiwan Association of Religious Studies117–168.
LuMei-huan (呂玫鍰) (2016) ‘Examining a Mazu pilgrimage in the heritagization process: Changes in ritual practices and the empowerment of a local community’ (遺產化過程中的媽祖進香：儀式變遷與地方賦權的考察)Minsu quyi192: 47–96.
OwnbyDavid (2013) ‘The politics of redemption: Redemptive societies and the Chinese state in modern and contemporary Chinese history’ in BaoKang (康豹 a.k.a. Paul R. Katz) and LiuShufen (劉淑芬) (eds) Belief Practice and Cultural Adaptation: Papers from the Religion Section of the Fourth International Conference on SinologyTaipei: Academia Sinica and Lien-ching Publishing683–741.
SchipperKristofer M. (1993) ‘The cult of Pao-sheng ta-ti and its spreading to Taiwan: A case study of fen-hsiang’ in VermeerE.B. (ed) Development and Decline of Fukien Province in the 17th and 18th CenturiesLeiden: Brill397–416.
ShihFang-long (施芳瓏) (2006) ‘From regulation and rationalisation, to production: Government policy on religion in Taiwan’ in FellDafyddKlöterHenning and ChangBi-yu (eds) What has Changed? Taiwan Before and After the Change in Ruling PartiesWiesbaden: Harrassowitz265–283.
ShihFang-long (2008) ‘Re-writing religion: Questions of translation, context, and location in the writing of religion in Taiwan’ in ShihFang-longThompsonStuart and TremlettPaul-François (eds) Re-writing Culture in TaiwanLondon: Routledge15–33.
SungKuang-yu (宋光宇) (1995) ‘On the formation of divine altars: Preliminary analysis of field materials on divine altar in Gaoxiong’ (神壇的形成：高雄市神壇調查資料的初歩分析) in Centre for Chinese Studies (漢學研究中心) (ed) Proceedings of the Conference on Temples and Popular Beliefs (寺廟與民間文化研討會論文集)Taipei: Committee for Cultural Construction97–128.
TangHui-yun (唐蕙韻) (2014) ‘Systematic relation between the supernatural and religious practices: A report on Duke Zhang’s spirit-writing session in Kinmen’ (乩示中的神、靈與儀式、習俗的系統關係：金門中堡威靈殿張公壇乩示紀實)Minsu quyi183: 71–138.
WangChien-chuan (2012) ‘Cross-Strait religious interaction and charitable activities prior to the kmt’s arrival in Taiwan (1949): With a discussion of the role of Huang Maosheng and the Lanji Bookstore’ (國民政府來台  前兩岸的宗教往來與慈善活動初探：兼談蘭記書局黃茂盛的角色) Mazu and Popular Religion: Research Newsletter (媽祖與民間信仰：研究通訊) 1: 57–69.
WangChien-chuan (2014) ‘Morality book publishing and popular religion in modern China: A discussion centered on morality book publishers in Shanghai’ in ClartPhilip and ScottGregory Adam (eds) Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China 1800–2012Boston and Berlin: De Gruyter265–294.
WellerRobert P. (2014) ‘Beyond globalization and secularization: Changing religion and philanthropy in Lukang, Taiwan’ in JansenThomasKleinThoralf and MeyerChristian (eds) Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions Local Agents and the Study of Religion 1800-PresentLeiden: Brill136–155.
WilkersonJames (2010) ‘Marital strategies in elite lineages in Hsinchu County in the Qing Dynasty’ paper presented at the 2010 Meeting of the Four Rivers Research Project National Chiao Tung University 10–11 December.
YangMayfair Mei-hui (楊美惠) (2004) ‘Spatial struggles: Postcolonial complex, state disenchantment, and popular re-appropriation of space in rural southeast China’The Journal of Asian Studies63(3): 719–755.
YangShih-hsien (楊士賢) (2008) ‘An investigation of the “midnight” mortuary rituals performed by the southern Min “Buddhist religion” (Shijiao): A case study of the Ciming Altar in Fengshan Village, Shoufeng Township, Hualien County’ (臺灣閩南釋教「午夜」喪葬拔渡法事調查：以花蓮縣壽豐鄉豐山村慈明壇爲研究對象)Minsu quyi162: 85–138.