Karen Blixens Plads 8
2300 København S
Wired: The Role of Infrastructure in the Buddhist Revival in Contemporary China and Beyond
Funded by Horizon 2020
Project period: 2022 - 2025
Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies
This project examines the critical and unforeseen role that infrastructure has played in the Buddhist revival in China and in China’s global Buddhist projects. I use an in-depth ethnographic method to explore the growing infrastructural connections between developmental and religious projects in Chinese domestic and transitional contexts by looking at Buddhist-related construction projects, schools, internet access, facilities, practices, and policies and their impact on the Buddhist revival in and outside China. My study investigates the much-neglected relationship that exists between religious movements in society and infrastructural projects by the state. In doing so, it provides not only an alternative perspective from which to understand religious movements in the context of global China, but, more broadly, it offers a critical and theoretical reassessment of the relationships between materiality and immateriality, human and non-human agency, and object and subject.
Since August 2021, I have conducted field research in Chinese (Taiwanese) Buddhist schools and charity organizations in southern African countries—my particular focus thus far has been Namibia. I seek to understand whether religion (Buddhism) can be a form of infrastructure in the context of the growing Chinese presence in African countries, and if so, how. My initial findings from this research will be presented in the two-day workshop “Engineering Buddhism: Infrastructure and Soft Power in Asia and Beyond” in June 2022.