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Religion and the Public Good in Taiwan

A talk by Robert P. Weller, in the series New Directions in Taiwan Studies

February 2, 2009 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Taiwanese religion over the last few decades has increasingly shouldered social responsibilities such as medical care, aid to the poor, and disaster relief. This has been most obvious in the new, global Buddhist movements, but has affected all kinds of religion. History shows a complex change in the role of religion over the course of the twentieth century. The presentation addresses this history as the story of a counterintuitive globalization, where conflicting forces of secular modernity and religious charity are ultimately reworked in Taiwan, and globalized anew from there.

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Robert P. Weller is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Boston University. He took took his doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University in 1980 for work on the role of religious variation in Taiwan's changing economy and society. His most recent book is Discovering Nature: Globalization and Environmental Culture in China and Taiwan(Cambridge U. Press, 2006). Other books include Civil Life, Globalization, and Political Change in Asia: Organizing Between Family and State (editor; Routledge, 2005), Alternate Civilities: Chinese Culture and the Prospects for Democracy (Westview, 1999), Resistance, Chaos and Control in China: Taiping Rebels, Taiwanese Ghosts and Tiananmen (U. Washington Press, 1994), and Unities and Diversities in Chinese Religion (U. Washington Press, 1987). He has also co-edited Power and Protest in the Countryside: Studies of Rural Unrest in Asia, Europe and Latin America and Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China.

Professor Weller's present research concerns the development of the environmental movement and nature tourism in China and Taiwan in the context of economic growth. He is also looking at the role of local voluntary organizations as mediators between state and society in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, and he has consulted on poverty and unemployment relief in western China.

Phone Number: 
(310) 825-8683