Religion, Gender and Urbanization in the SIP: Willful Gods and Antiheroic Agency | Duke Kunshan University

Religion, Gender and Urbanization in the SIP: Willful Gods and Antiheroic Agency

E.g., 06/18/2022
E.g., 06/18/2022
17:30 to 18:30

Time and date: 17:30-18:30, Monday November 4, 2019

Location: AB1087

Dr. Keping Wu
Senior Associate Professor
Department of China Studies
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University


What happens to Chinese popular religion in the process of urbanization, when temples are demolished together with villages to make way for urban development? My research in the Suzhou Industrial Park has demonstrated an innovative state that aims at shaping its subjects in new ways and willful gods that make demands through (mostly female) spirit mediums. The appearance of new forms of temples and management of religious groups have augmented male authorities but the female authorities find other ways of persisting. They realize power exactly in their repeated declaration of lack of authority and agency, and in their readiness to claim the politically “insignificant” areas of life. This antiheroic agency, I argue, is how the constantly transforming local tradition gains its resilience.


Keping Wu is Senior Associate Professor in the Department of China Studies at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. She has done over ten years of research in the Suzhou area. Her areas of research include religion, ethnicity, urbanization, ethics, charity and social policy. Her most recent publication is a co-authored book (with Robert Weller, C. Julia Huang, and Lizhu Fan), Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies (Cambridge University Press 2017).