A Spatial and Social Study of Communities and Networks

About

Mapping Religius Diversity in Modern Sichuan aims at discussing dynamics and paradigms of religious diversity in Sichuan in the Qing and Republican period. (1840-1949).

Historians of China have been increasingly interested in this extremely creative, if chaotic, period of time as central for the creation of Chinese modernity. Religion has only recently been part of the discussion, as publications and conferences have attested, but already provides an important lens through which to consider societal, political and cultural changes.

For this project, rather than concentrate on coastal areas or large urban centres as has been done in the majority of recent publications, we wish to focus on a lesser known and studied but extremely influential geographical area of China: Sichuan. Our aim is the study of religious diversity through the analysis of communities and networks, with a specific interest in interactions between rural/urban, public/private, religious/lay communities and spaces. Project participants will take into account not only the five officially recognized religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam) but also other religious manifestations that do not fit into these neat categories, like Confucio-Daoist traditions, philanthropic organizations, new religious movements, spirit writing communities. Further, we will try to address these different religious groups not as separate entities, but often in conversation with each other, and we will pay specific attention to gender relations in these exchanges. We will try to highlight interactions and the permeability of religious borders, and how ‘space’ is in itself an active agent in the formation and development of those relationships and networks. Finally, we plan to produce a digital mapping of these networks in free open access so to be used for teaching and research.

Locally, this project will enhance:

(1) theories and methods for the study of Chinese (and local Sichuan) practices of religious and ethnic inclusion through the conceptual categories of ‘network’ and ‘space’

(2) the understanding of the dynamics in the binaries urban and rural settings, private and public sphere, female and male communities that define the historical background to the contemporary religious landscape in Sichuan province; this will contribute to the fields of Chinese religious regionalism and spatial studies of religion

(3) the use of digital technologies to mark-up textual materials, produce GIS maps of the locations and geographical networks of religious communities

(4) concentrating on Sichuan as a specific case study will also allow us to use the time at our disposal to build a case that will work as a model for a larger scale longer-term project.

Globally, this research will produce the basis of conceptual paradigms on religious diversity and community networks that can be applicable to non-Chinese areas, and thus will become also academically and socially relevant on a global scale.

四川宗教近代史

近代四川的宗教多元化:社群與網絡的空間與社會研究

本計畫的宗旨在探究清、民時期,四川境內宗教多元所呈現的動力與範式圖像。中國歷史學者近來對此極具創意又近乎混亂的歷史階段甚感興趣,視其為型塑中國現代性的關鍵期。回顧諸多著作與會議論文,顯示宗教在最近方被重視並納入討論,此提供可以釐清社會、政治與文化變遷的重要切入點。

大部分的新近出版皆專注於沿海地區或大都會中心的研究,本計畫卻選擇聚焦在較少人知悉但在中國卻影響力極大的地理區域─四川。我們的目的在透過社群和網絡分析瞭解宗教多元現象,特別關注鄉村與城市、公領域與私領域、神職人員與一般信眾之間的互動關係。計畫參與者不但考察官方認可的五大宗教(佛教、道教、基督教、天主教、伊斯蘭),也將觸及在此範圍之外的宗教現象,例如儒道混和傳統、慈善團體、新興宗教運動、扶鸞團體。我們並非個別看待這些不同的宗教團體,而是探索它們之間的對話往來,尤其注意性別關係在其中的角色地位。我們也將凸顯宗教界圍的交相滲透與運作,以及「空間」本身如何成為形構這些關係網絡的重要能動者。

本研究的效益包括:(一)藉由「網絡」與「空間」兩個觀念範疇分析中國(與四川當地)宗教與少數民族,可提升研究理論與方法的高度;(二)對於界定當代四川宗教情勢的背景理解,即都市與鄉村、私領域與公領域、男性與女性之間的相互動能關係,也有莫大的助益;(三)使用數位科技標記文獻材料,並藉由地理資訊系統繪製宗教社群網絡的地理分佈圖,此也是一大貢獻。(四)所得出的宗教多元與社群網絡概念範式可運用於非中國地區;(五)從全球幅度衡量,此範式在學術和社會上至關重要。

本研究群由 Stefania Travagnin (史芬妮) 與 Elena Valussi (阿琳娜) 主導。參與學者來自不同的國家和學術背景(宗教史、中國研究、政治學、人類學、社會學、儀式研究、媒體與物質文化研究),而其研究資歷涵蓋所有主要宗教傳統與實踐。所有參與學者將與四川當地學者緊密合作。

每一研究員將在四川進行為期三年的民族誌與文獻考察,從事「宗教間」與「宗教際」兩者之一或兩者兼具的社群網路探討,思索「空間」在社群網絡的建構與發展過程中所扮演的角色。

本三年期的研究計畫結果,將發表在最後的學術會議,俟後也會至少集結成一論文集,或以專刊形式刊登於有匿名審查的國際期刊。再則,我們計畫使用數位人文技術,繪製研究產出的宗教網絡地圖或予以形象化。最後,我們將包括一教學項目。除公開可得的數位地圖外,我們將在第二年末舉辦暑期班。