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“Modernity” continues to be a useful historiographical tool, however, it is tension-laden both theoretically and empirically. Conceptually, “modernity” can denote either a quality (“modern-ness”) or a condition referring to a specific period in history. With regard to empirical research, the essay takes a look at the recent history of China, arguing that although there exists a line between what is modern and what is not (between modernity and its Other[s]), this often appears fuzzy when we look at concrete historical manifestations. Two case studies bear this out: The first looks at the possibility of locating a rural modernity, challenging conventional scholarship that has situated the modern almost exclusively in China’s cities. The second case study elucidates the relationship between “Chinese” and “global” modernity, striking a balance between universalistic and pluralistic understandings of modernity. In sum, the essay shows that it is essential to incorporate the paradoxes inherent in the modern condition into the analytical framework.

Open Access
In: International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
In: Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China
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Abstract

In this article, I examine two ‘semi-public’ German photo albums composed in the immediate aftermath of the international military intervention in China in 1900–01 known as the Boxer War. One was compiled by two members of the German East Asian Expeditionary Corps, Dr Wang and Lieutenant Freiherr von Meerscheidt-Hüllessem, the other by the incoming German minister to Beijing, Alfred von Mumm. I will begin by developing a narrative theory of the photo album. I will use this to demonstrate how the two albums visually (re-)construct a multifaceted journey through space and time in which political and military themes blend with a cultural gaze on China’s architecture as well as its people. The albums are thus situated at the intersection between imperialist intervention, cultural ethnography and modern (foreign) tourism in China. And they reflect various power differentials: not just the one between imperialist agents and victims but equally that between ethnographers and the people they study, as well as the one that characterises modern tourism.

In: International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present
Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China, co-edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein and Christian Meyer, investigates the transformation of China’s religious landscape under the impact of global influences since 1800. The interdisciplinary case studies analyze the ways in which processes of globalization are interlinked with localizing tendencies, thereby forging transnational relationships between individuals, the state and religious as well as non-religious groups at the same time that the global concept ‘religion’ embeds itself in the emerging Chinese ‘religious field’ and within the new academic disciplines of Religious Studies and Theology. The contributions unravel the intellectual, social, political and economic forces that shaped and were themselves shaped by the emergence of what has remained a highly contested category.

The contributors are: Hildegard Diemberger, Vincent Goossaert, Esther-Maria Guggenmos, Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, Dirk Kuhlmann, LAI Pan-chiu, Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Christian Meyer, Lauren Pfister, Chloë Starr, Xiaobing Wang-Riese, and Robert P. Weller.

Abstract

This chapter examines different stages of conversion to Christianity among contemporary Chinese migrants in Britain. The Chinese has become the fourth largest ethnic minority group in Britain, yet their religious attachments and experiences have hitherto received scant scholarly attention. This chapter seeks to fill this research gap by providing explorative sociological accounts of the socio-religious dynamics of the Chinese Christian communities in Britain, with a main focus on religious conversion. The study takes a qualitative approach, employing in-depth interviews and multi-sited ethnography as the main investigative instruments. It draws on social scientific theories of religious conversion to develop a sequential framework for the discussion of typical conversion trajectories among Chinese Christian converts in Britain. The applied three-stage sequential model, which centres on encounter, initiation and commitment, helps us understand the dynamics of Christian conversion whilst also providing a theoretical framework for an analysis of religious community-building among Chinese migrants in Britain.

In: Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion. Volume 11 (2020)
In: Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China
In: Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China
In: Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China