Negotiating the Christian Past in China: Memory and Missions in Contemporary Xiamen
Pennsylvania State University Press
“Negotiating the Christian Past in China coalesces granular, deeply researched ethnographic data into a fresh and expansive take on the unique patterns of Church-state engagement and the relationship between social memory and faith identity. This story is local and global, particular and general. For anyone who has not yet visited, or cannot travel to, Xiamen, especially Gulangyu Island, this book is the next best thing.”—Joseph T. H. Lee, Pace University
“Drawing on firsthand interviews, locally produced Chinese-language histories, and observation of historical celebrations, Negotiating the Christian Past in China offers a new understanding of China’s Christian past. In particular, Liu shows how this past is constructed by combining both official frameworks and unofficial nostalgias and experiences into a social memory that is actively produced without being dominated by state repression or characterized as grassroots resistance. This book takes readers as never before inside the lived world of Xiamen’s Christian present. It does so by exploring how protagonists construct its past in negotiations with other societal actors in the shadow of the state.”—Carsten Vala, author of The Politics of Protestant Churches and the Party-State in China
At the turn of the twenty-first century, Xiamen’s pursuit of World Heritage Site designation from UNESCO stimulated considerable interest in the city’s Christian past. History enthusiasts, both Christian and non-Christian, devoted themselves to reinterpreting the legacy of missionaries and challenged official narratives of Christianity’s troubled associations with Western imperialism. In this book, Jifeng Liu documents the tension that has inevitably emerged between the established official history and these popular efforts.
This volume elucidates the ways in which Christianity has become an integral part of Xiamen, a Chinese city profoundly influenced by Western missionaries. Drawing on extensive interviews, locally produced histories, and observations of historical celebrations, Liu provides an intimate portrait of the people who navigate ideological issues to reconstruct a Christian past, reproduce religious histories, and redefine local power structures in the shadow of the state. Liu makes a compelling argument that a Christian past is being constructed that combines official frameworks, unofficial practices, and nostalgia into social memory, a realm of dynamic negotiation that is neither dominated by the authoritarian state nor characterized by popular resistance. In this way, Negotiating the Christian Past in China illustrates the complexities of memory and missions in shaping the city’s cultural landscape, church-state dynamics, and global aspirations.
This groundbreaking study assumes a perspective of globalization and localization, in both the past and the present, to better understand Chinese Christianity in a local, national, and global context. It will be welcomed by scholars of religious studies and world Christianity, and by those interested in the church-state relationship in China.
List of Illustrations
Note on Romanization, Names, and Monetary Unites
List of Abbreviations
List of Characters
Chapter 1. Xiamen History, Society, and Christianity
Chapter 2. Discursive Reversals on Western Missionaries
Chapter 3. The Passing of Glory
Chapter 4. Writing and Contesting Christian History
Chapter 5. Global Missions Meet Local Politics
Jifeng Liu. Negotiating the Christian Past in China: Memory and Missions in Contemporary Xiamen. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022.
You can find the book on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: https://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-09287-4.html
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