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Book Chapter: Cyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape – Preliminary Observations

TitleCyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape – Preliminary Observations
Authors
Issue Date2004
PublisherPalgrave
Citation
Cyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape – Preliminary Observations. In Mengin, F (Ed.), Cyber China: Reshaping National Identities in the Age of Information, p. 37-50. London: Palgrave, 2004 How to Cite?
AbstractIt is still too early to assess the full impact of the Internet on China’s rapidly evolving religious landscape. The effectiveness of Falun Gong’s cyber-militancy has, however, underscored the role new information technologies are playing in the shifting relations of power between a classic repressive state apparatus and deterritorialized religious or sectarian movements. While the impact of the development of the Internet and other information technologies on the economy and politics of the Chinese world has been amply commented upon, to my knowledge no in-depth research has yet been conducted on how the Internet is changing the form of religion in China. And yet, religious changes represent an important dimension of the cultural recomposition and transformation of the Chinese-speaking world. This chapter proposes some initial hypotheses and observations on these issues, a preliminary report on what will, I hope, become a full-fledged study on the expansion of religion in Chinese cyberspace and its impact on religious practices, communities, and state-religion relations in contemporary China. I will begin with some general considerations on the relationship between information technology and religion; briefly present the types of religious information available on the Chinese Internet; and consider the cases of Daoism and of Falun Gong. In these case studies, we will see how, as a “virtual panopticon” closely monitored by the state while at the same time a space allowing unprecedented freedom of expression and access to information, the Internet is becoming a new zone of tension in the age-old agonistic relationship between religion and state in China. I began this study with three hypotheses. It was assumed that new information technologies would have three effects on the Chinese religious landscape: (1) the emergence of a new space for religious expression, characterized by an autonomous quest for meaning rather than collective rituals; (2) a further undermining of orthodoxies accompanied by the emergence of new centers of religious influence; (3) greater integration of Chinese communities on the mainland and overseas, as well as between Chinese and non-Chinese communities. So far, while the data seems to support the first two hypotheses, the third needs to be reformulated: a clear difference appears between online religion in mainland China and Hong Kong-Taiwan, with, surprisingly, the potentialities of the Web being more fully exploited on the mainland than in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This discrepancy will be described and explained in our case study of Daoism.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194527
ISBN

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorPalmer, DA-
dc.date.accessioned2014-02-06T03:06:38Z-
dc.date.available2014-02-06T03:06:38Z-
dc.date.issued2004-
dc.identifier.citationCyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape – Preliminary Observations. In Mengin, F (Ed.), Cyber China: Reshaping National Identities in the Age of Information, p. 37-50. London: Palgrave, 2004-
dc.identifier.isbn978-1403965783-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194527-
dc.description.abstractIt is still too early to assess the full impact of the Internet on China’s rapidly evolving religious landscape. The effectiveness of Falun Gong’s cyber-militancy has, however, underscored the role new information technologies are playing in the shifting relations of power between a classic repressive state apparatus and deterritorialized religious or sectarian movements. While the impact of the development of the Internet and other information technologies on the economy and politics of the Chinese world has been amply commented upon, to my knowledge no in-depth research has yet been conducted on how the Internet is changing the form of religion in China. And yet, religious changes represent an important dimension of the cultural recomposition and transformation of the Chinese-speaking world. This chapter proposes some initial hypotheses and observations on these issues, a preliminary report on what will, I hope, become a full-fledged study on the expansion of religion in Chinese cyberspace and its impact on religious practices, communities, and state-religion relations in contemporary China. I will begin with some general considerations on the relationship between information technology and religion; briefly present the types of religious information available on the Chinese Internet; and consider the cases of Daoism and of Falun Gong. In these case studies, we will see how, as a “virtual panopticon” closely monitored by the state while at the same time a space allowing unprecedented freedom of expression and access to information, the Internet is becoming a new zone of tension in the age-old agonistic relationship between religion and state in China. I began this study with three hypotheses. It was assumed that new information technologies would have three effects on the Chinese religious landscape: (1) the emergence of a new space for religious expression, characterized by an autonomous quest for meaning rather than collective rituals; (2) a further undermining of orthodoxies accompanied by the emergence of new centers of religious influence; (3) greater integration of Chinese communities on the mainland and overseas, as well as between Chinese and non-Chinese communities. So far, while the data seems to support the first two hypotheses, the third needs to be reformulated: a clear difference appears between online religion in mainland China and Hong Kong-Taiwan, with, surprisingly, the potentialities of the Web being more fully exploited on the mainland than in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This discrepancy will be described and explained in our case study of Daoism.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherPalgrave-
dc.relation.ispartofCyber China: Reshaping National Identities in the Age of Information-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleCyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape – Preliminary Observationsen_US
dc.typeBook_Chapteren_US
dc.identifier.emailPalmer, DA: palmer19@hku.hk-
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.spage37-
dc.identifier.epage50-
dc.publisher.placeLondon-

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