The Greening of Chinese Daoism: Modernity, Bureaucracy and Ecology in Contemporary Chinese Religion

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Lemche, Jennifer
Daoism , China , Ecology , Science , Modernity
This paper seeks to examine the role of Daoism as a green religion. It analyzes a variety of sources which report an overall trend of greening within Daoism in China, including academic literature, primary source material from Daoist groups and my own research from visits to sacred sites at Maoshan and Taibaishan. The analysis reveals that the green trend within Daoism is multifaceted, serving a variety of functions and is intimately bound up with the history of state-religion relations and the process of modernization within China. I contend that the current green agenda being pursued by the Chinese Daoist Association (CDA) represents an attempt by the CDA to transform Daoism into the definition of a modern Chinese religion. The CDA achieves this transformation by emphasizing humanist language and stressing the role of the natural environment, through the institution of a hierarchical structure which regulates temple activities and by distancing itself from so called superstitious practices in adopting a more a scientific discourse through ecological principles. This greening process has implications for both environmentalism in China and Daoism as a living tradition.
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