Program

New Perspectives on Chinese Culture & Society Conference Grants , American Research in the Humanities in China

Project

Between Eternity and Modernity: Daoism and its Reinvention in the Twentieth Century

Project

Daoist Monastic History, Clerical Activism, and Modern Reforms in Nanyang, 1860s-1950s

Department

History

Between Eternity and Modernity: Daoism and its Reinvention in the Twentieth Century

Daoist Monastic History, Clerical Activism, and Modern Reforms in Nanyang, 1860s-1950s

This study investigates the Daoist role in the social and cultural transformation of modern Nanyang from the 1850s to the 1950s. Current scholarship has largely focused on the persecution of Daoism due to the May-Fourth iconoclastic rejection of Chinese indigenous religions as bastions of cultural backwardness and obsolescence. This project examines the Daoist initiatives and involvement in reforms in education, philanthropy, agriculture, public health, and city parks in Nanyang from the late Qing to 1949. It shows that Nanyang’s Daoist clerics and temples played active positive roles in local modern developments, creating a vibrant public space for both the expanding state and local community.