breadcrumb

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

Topics: 

Info

Rebecca Nedostup
Harvard University Press
April 2010

Author Bio

Rebecca Nedostup is Associate Professor of History at Boston College. She received her PhD in History from Columbia University and has previously taught at Purdue University. Her research interests include the relationship between mass politics, popular culture, and social power in the twentieth century; religion and the nation-state; and urban and spatial history. Nedostup’s current research investigates community formation and home building among displaced persons in wartime and postwar China and Taiwan. The author of several articles and book chapters, Nedostup has also developed the “China Gateway” website as an entry point for undergraduates searching for research assistance and support in their study of China.

Share

Share/Save

Books

12.29.15

Crouching Tiger

Peter Navarro
Will there be war with China? This book provides the most complete and accurate assessment of the probability of conflict between the United States and the rising Asian superpower. Equally important, it lays out an in-depth analysis of the possible pathways to peace. Written like a geopolitical detective story, the narrative encourages reader interaction by starting each chapter with an intriguing question that often challenges conventional wisdom.Based on interviews with more than thirty top experts, the author highlights a number of disturbing facts about China's recent military buildup and the shifting balance of power in Asia: the Chinese are deploying game-changing "carrier killer" ballistic missiles; some of America's supposed allies in Europe and Asia are selling highly lethal weapons systems to China in a perverse twist on globalization; and, on the U.S. side, debilitating cutbacks in the military budget send a message to the world that America is not serious about its "pivot to Asia."In the face of these threatening developments, the book stresses the importance of maintaining U.S. military strength and preparedness and strengthening alliances, while warning against a complacent optimism that relies on economic engagement, negotiations, and nuclear deterrence to ensure peace.Accessible to readers from all walks of life, this multidisciplinary work blends geopolitics, economics, history, international relations, military doctrine, and political science to provide a better understanding of one of the most vexing problems facing the world. —Prometheus Books{chop}

Books

12.16.15

One Child

Mei Fong
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning. —Houghton Mifflin Harcourt{chop}

Books

12.10.15

Pacific

Simon Winchester
Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature.As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. With China on the rise, so, too, are the American cities of the West coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, and the long cluster of towns down the Silicon Valley.Today, the Pacific is ascendant. Its geological history has long transformed us—tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis—but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan’s sixteenth-century circumnavigation. It is a natural wonder whose most fascinating history is currently being made.In telling the story of the Pacific, Simon Winchester takes us from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to the many small islands and archipelagos that lie in between. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego, the land at the end of the world. His journey encompasses a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, and a trek across South Korea and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor.Winchester’s personal experience is vast and his storytelling second to none. And his historical understanding of the region is formidable, making Pacific a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives. —HarperCollins{chop}