Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a county in Southeast China, the article identifies three tendencies that have appeared in the revitalization of temple-based popular religion in the post-Mao period. It argues that we have to come to terms with the two faces of popular religion: the communal/mandatory dimension and the individual/voluntary dimension that is largely associated with female devotees. All three tendencies have been taking place when popular religion temples’ bonds with village communities attenuated and their voluntary dimension moved to the forefront. The article attributes the weakening of the communal dimension of popular religion temples to the restructuring of rural society by the Maoist political campaigns and the post-Mao marketization.
Read the abstract for the talk here.