ecology

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James Miller, Dan Smyer Yu and Peter van der Veer, eds. 2014. Religion and Ecological Sustainability in China. New York: Routledge. This book sheds light on the social imagination of nature and environment in contemporary China. It demonstrates how the urgent debate on how to create an ecologically sustainable future for the world’s most populous country is…

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In an online report on Religious Innovation for Sustainable Future (no longer available), Nina Witoszek (Oslo University) surveys a “pastoral renaissance” taking place across the globe. This renaissance, she declares, is “not just a tide of projects and conferences, but a new-old mindset which aspires to reclaiming nature, culture and spirituality, influencing green architecture and…

Read More green spirituality and the limits to modernity

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For the past six months I’ve been working with Dan Smyer Yu from the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity on a conference which is finally taking place next week at Minzu University in Beijing. The title of the conference is Religious Diversity and Ecological Sustainability in China. Here’s the conference rationale that…

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Should environmentalists support conservation projects that also serve to bolster right wing nationalist agendas? This was one of the questions that was discussed last month at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in San Francisco. I spoke on a panel organized by the Religion and Ecology section which featured a vibrant discussion on…

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The Blang village of Laoman'e

The question of how to promote a culture of ecological sustainability in China took me this summer to conduct exploratory fieldwork among the Blang minority nationality, in Yunnan province, close to the border between China and Myanmar. The Blang are one of China’s smaller nationality groups and occupy a remote mountainous terrain that is a…

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The electronic prayer hall at Wong Tai Sin (photo: Sik Sik Yuen)

As China overtakes Japan to be recognized as the world’s second largest economy, it is inevitable that Chinese religions will undergo change and transformation. But since Marx infamously compared the social function of religion to that of a narcotic, religion has consistently been framed in the modern imagination as backwards, anti-modern, and anti-science. China’s modernizers,…

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I was in Beijing and Tianjin recently for a week of conferences related to “ecological civilization” (shengtai wenming 生态文明) an important new buzzword, the precise meaning of which thought leaders and government officials are vying to define. The first conference I attended was one on “Traditional Culture and Ecological Civilization”, held in conjunction with the…

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Laozi Statue on Maoshan

In May this year I had the opportunity to visit Maoshan (Mt. Mao) a Daoist mountain sacred to the Shangqing (Highest Clarity) tradition of Daoism that I studied in my most recent book. Located in Jiangsu province, it is about an hour’s bus ride south of Zhenjiang, a stop on the main high speed railway…

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I was in LA last weekend to attend the Sixth Annual Conference on Daoist Studies which was organized by my former teacher, Livia Kohn, and LMU Professor Robin Wang. The conference drew the usual mix of academics and practitioners (which was itself the subject of an interesting meta-analysis by Elijah Siegler). My rationale for attending…

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