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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Religion in Two Chinese Contexts

Migrant communities in the Czech and Slovak Republics, and religious policy in the post-reform Chinese State

Series:  Seminars on Religion and Society

Date: Friday 6 September 2013, 3pm-5pm

Venue: Room 32L.G.20, 32 Lincoln’s Inn, London School of Economics

Chair: Mr Stuart Thompson (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)

This seminar will introduce two research projects, which will then be brought into dialogue with Taiwan Studies:

(1) Religion and Chinese migrant communities in in the Czech and Slovak Republics

This research project examines what the concept of religion means to migrant people, how it shapes and influences their lives, and how religious expression differs between western and eastern cultural contexts. Fieldwork undertaken over several years has explored a number of issues, including: the role of religion in the lives of migrants; the importance of religion in the construction of Overseas Chinese identity; the relationship between religious life in the original homeland and in migrants’ new homes; and the role of the state (or its absence) in the religious life of Chinese society, both in exile in central Europe or in the People's Republic of China itself. 

(2) The religious policy of the post-reform Chinese state

This research project explores how the religious policy of the post-reform Chinese state is not characterized only by a repressive approach. While international media and human rights organizations have focused on cases such as Falun Gong, unregistered Christian house churches, and pro-independent Tibetan Buddhists, etc., Chinese religious policy also has other dimensions, reflecting regulative and indifferent approaches and in some cases active support of selected and approved religious traditions. Affirmative action in relation to religious life in Chinese society does not just regulate and shape religious activities according to the wishes of state administration and the ruling Communist Party; it also helps to promote specific international policies and interests in the global political arena. These tendencies are most visible at the lower levels of state administration, where local politicians and businesspeople use famous local cults, shrines or deities to build up their connections within a globalized East Asian region and with the wider world.

About the Speaker

Dr Pavel Šindelář received his PhD in Religious Studies from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, in 2011. He is currently an assistant professor at Masaryk’s Centre for Chinese Studies, and publicity manager at the university’s Language Centre. His specialist areas are the anthropology of contemporary Chinese society, religious life in post-reform China, and the religious and ethnic policies of Chinese state. He is also involved with the European Union project CHINET, based at Palacky University, Olomouc. The project has established a large interdisciplinary research team in the area of Chinese Studies in the Czech Republic, with the aim of participating in research activities at the Pan-European level.