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Funerals and Religious Modernity in China

Funerals and Religious Modernity in China Modernity in China has involved the establishment of religion as a separate sphere of life, rapid urbanization, and the rise of the profession of funerary work. This paper examines the intersection of these three trends. On the one hand, the professionalization of funerary work takes place outside of religious institutions. It involves the commercialization of funerary work, the separation of the spaces for funerary ritual from the spaces of everyday life, and the need for professionals in a context where death itself is separated from the dynamics of living. On the other hand, because life itself is sacred and death vividly poses questions of the meaning of life, funerary ritual takes on a sacred tone and religious elements enter the proceedings no matter how nonreligious the professionals and the bereaved claim to be. The dynamics of religious modernity, or “the religious question in China,” involves the simultaneous compartmentalization of religion and the breaking of the boundaries between the religious and the nonreligious. These dynamics are at the heart of contemporary, urban Chinese funerals. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Religion and Chinese Society Brill

Funerals and Religious Modernity in China

Review of Religion and Chinese Society , Volume 6 (2): 20 – Dec 12, 2019

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2214-3947
eISSN
2214-3955
DOI
10.1163/22143955-00602006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Modernity in China has involved the establishment of religion as a separate sphere of life, rapid urbanization, and the rise of the profession of funerary work. This paper examines the intersection of these three trends. On the one hand, the professionalization of funerary work takes place outside of religious institutions. It involves the commercialization of funerary work, the separation of the spaces for funerary ritual from the spaces of everyday life, and the need for professionals in a context where death itself is separated from the dynamics of living. On the other hand, because life itself is sacred and death vividly poses questions of the meaning of life, funerary ritual takes on a sacred tone and religious elements enter the proceedings no matter how nonreligious the professionals and the bereaved claim to be. The dynamics of religious modernity, or “the religious question in China,” involves the simultaneous compartmentalization of religion and the breaking of the boundaries between the religious and the nonreligious. These dynamics are at the heart of contemporary, urban Chinese funerals.

Journal

Review of Religion and Chinese SocietyBrill

Published: Dec 12, 2019

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