Ecologies of Faith in New York City: The Evolution of Religious Institutions

By Richard Cimino; Nadia A. Mian et al. | Go to book overview

4
Diversity and Competition:
Politics and Conflict in
New Immigrant Communities

Weishan Huang

Falun Gong (FLG) stepped onto the world stage with its sit-in demonstration in Beijing on April 25, 1999 – with more than 10,000 participants, the largest public protest in China since the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. Since then, New York City has become the center of the group’s resistance efforts. Established by its charismatic leader, Master Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong is an interesting case study of a modern Buddhist-Taoist–qi-gong faith group with a highly mobilized group of followers.

This chapter seeks, first, to understand the changing ecology of Chinese immigrant communities in New York and to discuss the gentrification of Flushing, which is triggered by transnational capital. Second, the chapter introduces the practices of Falun Gong and focuses on the strategic campaigns of the movement in New York, particularly its parades in immigrant communities. The research has discovered that, to understand the politics of diversity within ethnic Chinese politics, we have to locate the immigrant community in a global milieu. The conflict between Falun Gong and Chinas government has been translated onto the streets of New York City, a development that reveals the politics of immigrant communities as a reflection of domestic politics in their home countries.

Working within the framework of religious ecology, I examine Falun Gong in New York as a network “unit” that interacts with other units in society: people, organizations, and cultures. The group s practices in public parks

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