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Handbook of Religion and the Asian CityAspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century$
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Peter van der Veer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281226

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281226.001.0001

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date: 11 May 2021

The Flexibility of Religion

The Flexibility of Religion

Buddhist Temples as Multiaspirational Sites in Contemporary Beijing

(p.299) 16 The Flexibility of Religion
Handbook of Religion and the Asian City

Gareth Fisher

University of California Press

This chapter examines the flexible nature of religion by focusing on Buddhist temples as multiaspirational sites in contemporary Beijing. More specifically, it considers the role of public Buddhist sites such as the Temple of Universal Rescue in post-Mao urban China. It argues that such sites function as arenas for urban aspirations that find little expression in the nonreligious spaces of secular cities like Beijing. Using the Temple of Universal Rescue as an example, the chapter shows how urban religious spaces in post-Mao China, particularly Buddhist ones, can function as sites for multiple aspirations that challenge state and market visions that dominate the urban geography of the secular Chinese city. After a brief review of the social history of religion and the secular in modern China, the rest of the chapter explores how the post-Mao phenomenon of religious spaces emerged as sites for alternative aspirations and looks at the aspirations of three temple goers: Wang Yi, Li Xiangqian, and Jiang Mei.

Keywords:   religion, Buddhist temples, Beijing, Temple of Universal Rescue, China, urban aspirations, religious space, urban geography, temple goers, Buddhism

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