Most commentators imagine contemporary China to be monolithic, atheistic, and materialist, and wholly divorced from its earlier customs, but Kenneth Dean combines evidence from historical texts and extensive fieldwork to reveal an entirely different picture. Since 1979, when the Chinese government relaxed some of its most stringent controls on religion, villagers in the isolated areas of Southeast China have maintained an "underground" effort to restore traditional rituals and local cults.
Originally published in 1995.
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"This excellent study, among its other virtues, makes one outstanding contribution to religious studies: it provides ethnographic reporting of local religious practices in the People's Republic of China (PRC). . . . Probably the most sophisticated study of contemporary popular Chinese religion that has yet appeared."--Alan Hunter, Sociology of Religion
"This excellent . . . book breaks new ground in several interrelated areas: its combination of fieldwork with the collection and study of texts and inscriptions, the inclusive, community-wide base of local religious practices, the role of Daoist priests in a community religion, detailed case studies of the development of popular deities, and the revival of religious festivals in China in the mid-1980s."--Daniel L. Overmyer, Pacific Affairs
"Dean has made a major contribution to our understanding of Chinese religion. . . . As an expert tour-guide, eyewitness reporter, archivist, historical interpreter, textual translator, and semiologist, he constructs a valuable multifaceted view of some old and continuously developing religious phenomena."--Scott Davis, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs
Hardcover published in 1993