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Wired: The Role of Infrastructure in the Buddhist Revival in Contemporary China and Beoynd

Project description

The Role of Infrastructure in the Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Contemporary China

China has gradually permitted the renewal of religious activity. Tibetans, more so, those whose traditional religious and cultural institutions were decimated have used this opportunity to pursue an extensive Buddhist renewal. The EU-funded WIRED project examines the critical and unforeseen role of infrastructure in the Tibetan Buddhist revival in contemporary China. The project uses a detailed ethnographic method to explore growing infrastructural connections between China and Tibet, from remote Tibetan regions to Chinese metropolitan areas. It also examines internet access, new construction, roadways, facilities, practices, and policies, reviewing their impact on the Tibetan Buddhist revival in China and vice versa.


This project examines the critical and unforeseen role that infrastructure has played in the Buddhist revival in China and in China’s global Buddhist projects. Although both state-led developmental projects and religious revivalism in China have been widely discussed, they are usually treated as separate realms of study, as if one represents material development while the other represents immaterial perspectives. The main objective of my study is to show that these two movements are in fact interlinked and that Buddhism works as a form of infrastructure. I use an in-depth ethnographic method to explore the growing infrastructural connections between developmental and religious projects in Chinese domestic and transitional contexts by looking at Buddhist-related construction projects, schools, internet access, facilities, practices, and policies and their impact on the Buddhist revival in and outside China. My study investigates the much neglected relationship that exists between religious movements in society and infrastructural projects by the state. In doing so, it provides not only an alternative perspective from which to understand religious movements in the context of global China, but, more broadly, it offers a critical and theoretical reassessment of the relationships between materiality and immateriality, human and non-human agency, and object and subject. The University of Copenhagen is an ideal place in which to pursue my project. The Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies uniquely combines interdisciplinary inquiry and study across China Studies, Anthropology, and Religious Studies, all of which are crucial to my project. In particular, my project fits well with the research foci of the Department’s Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, a world-class research center led by Associate Professor Trine Brox with a focus on the mediating role that Buddhism plays for materiality, spirituality, economy, and value across contemporary societies.



Net EU contribution
€ 207 312,00
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00