samedi 2 février 2013

1898: The Beginning of the End for Chinese Religion?

Text of Goncharenko Alexei
Text published by Association for Asian Studies

1898: The Beginning of the End for Chinese Religion?
Author: Vincent Goossaert
Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 65, No. 2 (May, 2006), pp. 307-335

     Vincent Goossaert is the Vice director of the group society religions and laicité in France.  He obtained his PHD at the EPHE in 1997 in Paris with a dissertation in pre-modern Taoism. In 2007 he was an ICS visiting professor at the Chinese university of Hong Kong. Most of his research deals with the history with the modern and premodern Chinese religion. He published papers and books that touch the subject of Anticlericalism, Chinese temples and cults. This paper was first presented at the “competition and conflict of Chinese religion’’ panel of association for Asian studies in New York.

       In 1898 the leader Kang Youwei who was also a reformist proposed to the throne that all Temples and academies in China would be turned into education facilities. Content with his proposal, the emperor decided to announce an edict that same day that would take over Kang’s words. In the following weeks, China’s famous editorial the Sehnghao discussed and labelled the edict as a way to get China rid of its temples and cults instead of facilitating the access to educational facilities. This Endeavour to go through with this process was perceived more of a religious reform. Although they were perceived to have a negative effect on China’s religious society, the author states the important neglected elements during the Wuxu reforms had a positive effect. Gooseart’s aim is to demonstrate that the 1898 edict had a very small influence at that time and that the changes “destroy temples to build schools’’ was put in motion during a political and social change in Chinese religion.

      Although in October 1898 the process was recalled, it was in early 1901 that with the upcoming new policies Xing Zhen and few officials began the transformation. During this decade more than half a million temples were emptied. The destruction and transformation was not only a political and social motivation, but a religious policy that was about to be acclaimed.

     The religious movements were not politically nor atheist motivated like in Russia or mexico, but more of a imposition of a religious view that led to reform the religious scene. “Similarly, in China, many of the leaders of the reform movements were active practitioners of spiritual traditions, some, like Zhang Taiyan jjt;fc; ^ (Binglin 1869-1936) and Liang Qichao ^igfg (1873-1929), being part of a strong and influential movement of Buddhist intellectual revival (Goldfuss 2001), others, like Sun Yat-sen and other future leaders of the Kuomintang, being converted to Chris tianity, others yet, like Kang Youwei, envisioning to invent a state religion out of Confucian elements.6”.

     Behind the confiscation of temples and cults were 3 masterminds: Kang Youwei, mastermind of the Wuxu reforms; Zhang Taiyan, an influential reformist scholar; and Zhang Zhidong (1837-1909), then the Huguang governor-general. Each one of them had their own method of imposing their ideas. Kang for example wanted to transform improper temples into Confucius temples whereas to Zhang Zhidong represented a traditional attitude in not wanting to destroy the Buddhist and Taoist institutions but only
to reduce their numbers.

      In the events of 1898 such as the antisuperstitions movement and the discourse about it, led the Chinese religion to become more segregated from rituals in order to infuse with new ideas of Confucianism or Taoism. The events that are mentioned are very insightful because they portray that this reform was actually more of a conflict between religions as the author mentions it. This era should not only be seen as a political change, but a time where politics were conducted and had a significant impact on temples and cults in China. Although it was not the end, Chinese religion proved to be flexible and underwent many changes. 

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire