Constructing China's Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou

Constructing China's Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou

Constructing China's Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou

Constructing China's Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou

Synopsis

Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews, this illuminating book provides an intimate portrait of contemporary Chinese Christianity in the context of a modern, commercialized economy. In vivid detail, anthropologist Nanlai Cao explores the massive resurgence of Protestant Christianity in the southeastern coastal city of Wenzhou- popularly referred to by its residents as "China's Jerusalem"- a nationwide model for economic development and the largest urban Christian center in China.

Cao's study of Chinese Christians delves into the dynamics of activities such as banqueting, network building, property acquisition, mate selection, marriage ritual, migrant work, and education. Unlike previous research that has mainly looked at older, rural, and socially marginalized church communities, Cao trains his focus on economically powerful, politically connected, moralizing Christian entrepreneurs. In framing the city of Wenzhou as China's Jerusalem, newly rich Chinese Christians seek not only to express their leadership aspirations in a global religious movement but also to assert their place, identity, and elite status in post-reform Chinese society.

Excerpt

On December 22, 2006, the traffic police department of the Public Security Bureau of Wenzhou issued a public notice, “On enforcing traffic control in the downtown area during Christmas.” It read, “In order to ensure traffic safety and smoothness in the downtown area during Christmas 2006, a decision has been made to enforce traffic control according to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Road Traffic Safety.” The decision was to ban all vehicles except public buses, taxis, and two-wheeled motorcycles in the entire city center from 5:00 p.m. December 24 to 3:00 a.m. December 25. The word “Christmas” (shengdanjie) appeared three times in this short magisterial statement. Christmas is not an official holiday in China, but mass participation in the annual Christmas celebration left little room for the local state to maneuver. With memories of hectic traffic jams in previous years, the local police chose to intervene. The naming of this local festival period “Christmas” in the law and the state-controlled media, however, unwittingly granted legitimacy to Christianity. State “recognition” of Christmas is part of the story of the massive resurgence of Christianity in contemporary Wenzhou detailed in this book.

In the last quarter century, the southeast coastal city of Wenzhou has become the largest urban Christian center in China, popularly known as “China’s Jerusalem” (Zhongguo de Yelusaleng). Wenzhou is home, by some estimates, to as many as one million Christians (Protestant) and more than . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.