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Edited by Jørn Borup, Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger and Lene Kühle

The religious landscape in Asia has long been diverse, with various forms of syncretic traditions and pragmatic practices continuously having been challenged by centrifugal forces of differentiation. This anthology explores representations and managements of religious diversity in Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and diaspora religions originating in these countries, seen through the lenses of history, identity, state, ritual and geography. In addition to presenting empirical cases, the chapters also address theoretical and methodological reflections using Asia as a laboratory for further comparative research of the relevance and use of 'religious diversity'.

Religious Diversity in Asia was made possible by a framework grant from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation allowing the grant holder (Jørn Borup) and two colleagues (Marianne Q. Fibiger and Lene Kühle) to host a workshop at Aarhus University and to co-arrange workshops in Delhi and Nagoya. We would like to thank professors Arshad Alam and Michiaki Okuyama for hosting these latter workshops at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Nanzan University, and we would like to thank Professor Chong-Suh Kim for the invitation for Jørn Borup to visit Seoul National University. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all the scholars who participated in the workshops and to all the authors we subsequently invited to contribute to our endeavor to create this academically relevant volume.

Masters of Psalmody (bimo)

Scriptural Shamanism in Southwestern China

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Aurélie Névot

In Masters of Psalmody (bimo ) Aurélie Névot analyses the religious, political and theoretical issues of a scriptural shamanism observed in southwestern China among the Yi-Sani. Her focus is on blood sacrifices and chants based on a secret and labile writing handled only by ritualists called bimo.

Through ethnographic data, the author presents the still little known bimo metaphysics and unravels the complexity of the local text-based ritual system in which the continuity of each bimo lineage relies on the transmission of manuscripts whose writing relates to lineage blood. While illuminating the usages of this shamanistic tradition that is characterized by scriptural variability between patrilineages, Aurélie Névot highlights the radical changes it is undergoing by becoming a Chinese state tradition.

The Varieties of Confucian Experience

Documenting a Grassroots Revival of Tradition

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Edited by Sébastien Billioud

Although the development of a “popular” brand of Confucianism in China is today a massive phenomenon, research on the topic remains scarce. Based on fieldwork carried out by a team of scholars in different parts of the country, the ambition of The Varieties of Confucian Experience is to contribute to the limited body of ethnographic accounts that aim to document and understand the diversity of phenomena encapsulated under the label “Confucian revival” in the first two decades of the 21st century.

Chinese Religion in Malaysia

Temples and Communities

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Chee-Beng Tan

Based on long-term ethnographic study, this is the first comprehensive work on the Chinese popular religion in Malaysia. It analyses temples and communities in historical and contemporary perspective, the diversity of deities and Chinese speech groups, religious specialists and temple services, the communal significance of the Hungry Ghosts Festival, the relationship between religion and philanthropy as seen through the lens of such Chinese religious organization as shantang (benevolent halls) and Dejiao (Moral Uplifting Societies), as well as the development and transformation of Taoist Religion. Highly informative, this concise book contributes to an understanding of Chinese migration and settlement, political economy and religion, religion and identity politics as well the significance of religion to both individuals and communities.

Kailas Histories

Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography

Series:

Alex McKay

Tibet’s Mount Kailas is one of the world’s great pilgrimage centres, renowned as an ancient sacred site that embodies a universal sacrality. But Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography demonstrates that this understanding is a recent construction by British colonial, Hindu modernist, and New Age interests. Using multiple sources, including fieldwork, Alex McKay describes how the early Indic vision of a heavenly mountain named Kailas became identified with actual mountains. He emphasises renunciate agency in demonstrating how local beliefs were subsumed as Kailas developed within Hindu, Buddhist, and Bön traditions, how five mountains in the Indian Himalayan are also named Kailas, and how Kailas sacred geography constructions and a sacred Ganges source region were related.