International Institute for Asian Studies


Call for papers

Re-theorising Heritage and Religion in East Asia

Panel: Retheorising Heritage and Religion in East Asia

Thanks to the establishment of world heritage system and the rise of global tourism, the discourse of heritage and religion have witnessed revival in recent decades. In countries such as China, Korea and Japan, both heritage and religion revived with the economic reform and have been used by the government as strategies to maintain social stability; and, both have become “commodities” people consume when they confront with identity crisis, and anxiety of loss due to the rapid transition of urban or rural environment in recent years.
While religious heritage occupied one fifth world heritage sites, very little research examines the interrelationship between the two (heritage and religion). In this panel, we would like to focus on how religious heritage can play across national boundaries in Asia. The inscription of these religious items as World Heritage has accelerated the interactions among religious practitioners across borders, and has boosted more tourist-followers to join the modern pilgrimage routes. For example, the panelists discuss about the making of a common ancestral genealogy and national/official ceremony in Chinese society (Shu-Li Wang), intangible heritage and the worship of deity Mazu across China and Taiwan (Hsun Chang), Christian missionaries network building between China and southeast Asia (Jifeng Liu), and the cultural effects of ethnic heritage tourism at the borderlands of mainland China (Yujie Zhu). It is these diversity and vibrancy that make religious discourse in East Asia unique.

Moreover, we would also like to look at: How do heritage sites become places of pilgrimage to people who ascribe deep meaning to them? How do religious communities negotiate and contest their religious identity when their temples or churches become authorized heritage sites with new regulations on conservation and management? How were local religious practitioners in minority areas revitalized as “intangible heritage inheritors” in the context of cultural commercialization?
Theoretical reflections include the relationship between heritage and religious practices and the dissonances between religious and secular claims on heritage sites.

The panel will focus on, but not limited to, the following subject areas:
 The link between heritage and religious sites
 Theorising heritage and religion
 Religious practices and interactions across borders
 Value claims on religious/heritage sites in East Asia
 Religious and ethnic implications for heritage
 Management implication for sites of both religious and heritage value
 Nationalism and religion at heritage sites
 Pilgrimage sites in East Asia
 Religious tourism in East Asia
 Tangible and intangible elements of religious heritage
 Performance, Ritual, and Festival

Proposals are invited for the following panel, which has been accepted for the Association of Critical Heritage Studies 4th Biennial Conference 2018: Heritage Across Borders.
Date: 1-6 September 2018
Venue: Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China


Abstract Submission

An abstract in English (up to 300 words) can be sent to by 30 September 2017. The submission should also include an abstract title, the author’s name, and affiliation. As well as contact details (including email address). Successful applicants will be notified by 1 November 2017.

Dr. Shu-Li Wang (Convenor), Assistant Research Professor, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica

Dr. Hsun Chang (Chairperson), Research Professor, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica

Dr. Yujie Zhu (co-convenor), Lecturer, Heritage and Museum Studies, Australian National University

Dr. Jifeng Liu, Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Prof. Michael Rowlands (Discussant)
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University College London