Dr. Huang Weishan, Guest Researcher, 10.2013-10.2015

Dr. Huang Weishan

Dr. Huang Weishan was a guest researcher at the Centre for Modern East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen. Before she was research associate at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen.

What are your main research interests?

My research interests focus on religious movements, migration and religion, and migration and cities.

What are your current projects?

Taiwan has served as an important source of emigration contributing to the religious revival in China since the latter nation’s opening to outside influences. My research will examine process of the deterritorialization and the localization of religious practices carried out by Taiwanese entrepreneurs at the intersection of transnational migration and the global division of labor in Shanghai in last 20 years. This project is situated in the previous literature about, first of all, globalization and place-making and, secondly, about conversation in religious movements about place-claiming and political strategy. The religious movements I am studying, Tzu Chi and Local Church, were brought to Shanghai by transnational Taiwanese entrepreneurs in the early 1990s. Due to governmental restrictions in the province-level municipalities, religious practices are invisible in public spaces, but they show vitality in private spaces in Shanghai. The roles urban religious institutions play in adapting to city regulations are especially pressing for faith groups. There are two dimensions of research interest in this project. My first task will be to understand the dynamics of cross-strait migration and the strategies of religious practices among Taiwanese immigrants in Shanghai. The second will be to understand the shift of religious practices and discourses among newly converted local Chinese practitioners.

What led you to pursue this research?

I have started cultivating my interest on China since I joined MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversities in 2009. Since I am a Taiwanese, it is nature for me to pay more attention on the expansion of Taiwanese Buddhism/Religion.

How is your research unique?

This is not just another project on religion on China. The research is designed to understand the relationship between the wider city and the strategical manifestation of religious groups in the alternative realm – in the spatial, sociological and political senses. It is also a comparison between my research on New York and Shanghai.

How do you want to use your grant for your research?

My research method includes participant-observation, formal and informal interviews, and focus groups. I will need to conduct ethnography in Shanghai and Beijing in next 2 years. I plan to use CCK research grant for fieldwork and publish a book based on the data I collect. [/expand]