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Superstitious Regimes

Superstitious Regimes

Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity

We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.

These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.” —Harvard University Press

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Books

05.05.16

Alibaba

Duncan Clark
In just a decade and half, Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle class consumers.Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material, including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early adviser to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet’s impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise.How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80 percent market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions? How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.? Clark tells Alibaba’s tale in the context of China’s momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before. —HarperCollins{chop}

Books

04.18.16

China’s Future

David Shambaugh
China’s future arguably is the most consequential question in global affairs. Having enjoyed unprecedented levels of growth, China is at a critical juncture in the development of its economy, society, polity, national security, and international relations. The direction the nation takes at this turning point will determine whether it stalls or continues to develop and prosper.Will China be successful in implementing a new wave of transformational reforms that could last decades and make it the world’s leading superpower? Or will its leaders shy away from the drastic changes required because the regime’s power is at risk? If so, will that lead to prolonged stagnation or even regime collapse? Might China move down a more liberal or even democratic path? Or will China instead emerge as a hard, authoritarian, and aggressive superstate?In this new book, David Shambaugh argues that these potential pathways are all possibilities—but they depend on key decisions yet to be made by China’s leaders, different pressures from within Chinese society, as well as actions taken by other nations. Assessing these scenarios and their implications, he offers a thoughtful and clear study of China’s future for all those seeking to understand the country’s likely trajectory over the coming decade and beyond. —Polity Press{chop}

Books

02.23.16

The Diplomacy of Migration

Meredith Oyen
During the Cold War, both Chinese and American officials employed a wide range of migration policies and practices to pursue legitimacy, security, and prestige. They focused on allowing or restricting immigration, assigning refugee status, facilitating student exchanges, and enforcing deportations. The Diplomacy of Migration focuses on the role these practices played in the relationship between the United States and the Republic of China both before and after the move to Taiwan. Meredith Oyen identifies three patterns of migration diplomacy: migration legislation as a tool to achieve foreign policy goals, migrants as subjects of diplomacy and propaganda, and migration controls that shaped the Chinese American community.Using sources from diplomatic and governmental archives in the United States, the Republic of China on Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Kingdom, Oyen applies a truly transnational perspective. The Diplomacy of Migration combines important innovations in the field of diplomatic history with new international trends in migration history to show that even though migration issues were often considered “low stakes” or “low risk” by foreign policy professionals concerned with Cold War politics and the nuclear age, they were neither “no risk” nor unimportant to larger goals. Instead, migration diplomacy became a means of facilitating other foreign policy priorities, even when doing so came at great cost for migrants themselves. —Cornell University Press{chop}Correction: Meredith Oyen’s employer was misidentified in an earlier version of this video. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.