Between the 1860s and the 1960s, thousands of religious sites in China, including Buddhist monasteries, were destroyed due to war, natural disasters, and anti-religious campaigns. Hundreds of these sites were later repaired and rebuilt, sometimes from the ground up, in reconstruction campaigns that drew upon local, regional, and national networks to mobilize spiritual and material resources. Buddhist monastic and lay leaders, as well as civil and military officials, all played central roles in these reconstructions. During this century of history, however, the nature and significance of Buddhist monastery reconstruction in China changed drastically. In this project I argue that over the course of this period it became increasingly difficult for reconstruction leaders to resist the interests of state actors, who sought to refashion what had been living religious communities into monuments of Chinese cultural heritage. In reconstructing these sacred sites, they were transformed into highly-charged, yet static symbols of China’s past and its intended future role in a globalized world, a process that continues to unfold in China today.
Dr. Gregory Adam Scott is Lecturer in Chinese Culture and History at the University of Manchester. He is a proud York University alumnus (BA East Asian Studies, 2003), and later studied at the University of Toronto (MA 2005) and Columbia University (PhD 2013.) His research focuses on the role of Buddhism in modern China between the early 1800s and the 1960s.
This event is presented by the York Centre for Asian Research and the Religious Studies programme in the Department of Humanities at York University.