BODHISATTVA COMES OUT OF CLOSET: CITY, SURVEILLANCE, AND DOING RELIGION
The author is interested in looking at religious groups as a location for discussion and critique in a censorial society in China. This paper will take the approach of the “ecological model” in field research in a highly censorial and increasingly pluralistic city, Shanghai. Shanghai has experienced large scale social changes since the late 1980s. It is critical to understand how socio-structural challenges, such as immigration, affect faith-based groups within the frame of urban aspirations. In this paper, the adaptation of faith-based groups to their political environments will be the primarily focus. Due to governmental restriction in province-level municipalities, religious practices are invisible in public spaces but are revitalizing in private spaces in major Chinese cities. The roles urban religious institutions play in adapting to city regulations are especially pressing for faith groups. My research discovered, first, under the political surveillance in city, religious groups are not passively enduring the impact of political control, but also actively engaging in organizational development. Secondly, religious groups can be considered a location which creates a social space for grassroots education and, therefore, develops a more creative and fluid “popular politics” in society, which offers a critique to a highly regulated society
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