China is undergoing one of the great religious revivals of our time. Hundreds of millions ofChinesepeople are disturbed by the pace of advancement in their country and are turning to faith for meaning and hope, lacking fromthe radically secular world around them. This search for the sacred is shifting social structures and shaping China’s future in new and significant ways. ‘Shanghai Sacred’ explores the spaces, rituals and communities – in official, unofficial, public and private forms – that together weave the spiritual fabric of China’s largest city.
Shanghai, the tenth wealthiest city in the world with over 24 million inhabitants, is famous for economic dynamism and architectural daring. It has become synonymous with consumerism and at the same time is the forefront of religious resurgence. Rooted in history, this revival has swept in on the tide of globalisation, fed by the inventiveness of Chinese people. After decades of suppression during the Mao era the number of followers of China’s five official religions – Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism – issteadily rising alongside a rich range of unofficial groups and alternative spiritual practices. This multidisciplinary project was undertaken in collaboration with Professor Benoit Vermander of the Xu-Ricci Dialogue Institute at Fudan University and Liang Zhang of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Providing the first thorough investigation of religious practices in a Chinese city, Shanghai Sacred is published by Washington University Press.