Shanghai Sacred

The Religious Landscape of a Global City

Benoit Vermander, Liz Hingley, and Liang Zhang

  • Published: April 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 328 pp., 48 color plates, 11 maps, 7 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Shanghai, a dynamic world metropolis, is home to a multitude of religions, from Buddhism and Islam, to Christianity and Baha'ism, to Hinduism and Daoism, and many more. In this city of 24 million inhabitants, new religious groups and older faiths together claim and reclaim spiritual space.

Shanghai Sacred explores the spaces, rituals, and daily practices that make up the religious landscape of the city, offering a new paradigm for the study of Chinese spirituality that reflects the global trends shaping Chinese culture and civil society.

Based on years of fieldwork, incorporating both comparative and methodological perspectives, Shanghai Sacred demonstrates how religions are lived, constructed, and thus inscribed into the social imaginary of the metropolis. Evocative photographs by Liz Hingley enrich and interact with the narrative, making the book an innovative contribution to religious visual ethnography.
Benoit Vermander is professor of religious studies and director of the Xu-Ricci Dialogue Institute at Fudan University, Shanghai. He is the author of Corporate Social Responsibility in China: A Vision, an Assessment and a Blueprint. Photographer and anthropologist Liz Hingley was a visiting scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (2013-2016). She is currently artist-in-residence at the Human Geography Department, University College London, and an honorary research fellow in the Department of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Birmingham. Liang Zhang is research assistant in the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

"Vivid ethnographic descriptions and personal stories give Shanghai Sacred a rich texture and glimpses into many hidden corners of a highly diversified metropolis."
-David A. Palmer, coauthor of The Religious Question in Modern China

"Full of evocatively described observations and revealing interviews, Shanghai Sacred offers an extremely rich overview of the diversity of religious belief and practice in contemporary Shanghai."
-Richard Madsen, author of Democracy's Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan

"Offers a mesmerising portrait of sacred practices and places in Shanghai. Art and scholarship come together in a most original way to charm and illuminate."
-Linda Woodhead, professor of politics, philosophy, and religion, Lancaster University

"Shanghai Sacred is a rich revelation of spirituality - of the variegated, deeply-rooted, and resilient quotidian piety embedded in the social and material fabric of today's cosmopolitan megalopolis."
-Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University


"This empirically rich and analytically engaging book shows that Shanghai is not only a cosmopolitan city where East meets West in China, or a thriving metropolis that positions itself as both the home of the revolutionary movement and the cornerstone of Chinese 'modernity,' but that it is also an important global center in terms of cultural and religious diversity."
-Reading Religion