Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia

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Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia | Bryan S. Turner and Oscar Salemink

Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia

Bryan S. Turner
Oscar Salemink





450 pages

The Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia provides a contemporary and comprehensive overview of religion in contemporary Asia. Compiled and introduced by Bryan S. Turner and Oscar Salemink, the Handbook contains specially written chapters by experts in their respective fields.

The wide-ranging introduction discusses issues surrounding Orientalism and the historical development of the discipline of Religious Studies. It conveys how there have been many centuries of interaction between different religious traditions in Asia and discusses the problem of world religions and the range of concepts, such as high and low traditions, folk and formal religions, popular and orthodox developments.

Individual chapters are presented in the following five sections:

  • Asian origins: religious formations;
  • Missions, states and religious competition;
  • Reform movements and modernity;
  • Popular religions;
  • Religion and globalization: social dimensions.

Striking a balance between offering basic information about religious cultures in Asia and addressing the complexity of employing a Western terminology in societies with radically different traditions, this advanced- level reference work will be essential reading for students, researchers and scholars of Asian Religions, Sociology, Anthropology, Asian Studies and Religious Studies.

Bryan S. Turner is the Presidential Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Committee on Religion at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and concurrently Professor of the Sociology of Religion at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia. He was the research leader on globalization and religion in the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore (2005-9) and the Alona Evans Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College (2009-10). He edited the New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion (2009) and he is the editor of the Routledge Religion in Contemporary Asia Series. He was awarded a doctorate of letters by the University of Cambridge in 2009.

Oscar Salemink is Professor in the Anthropology of Asia at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Amsterdam. His current research concerns religious and ritual practice in everyday life in Vietnam and the East and Southeast Asian region. Recent publications The Ethnography of Vietnam’s Central Highlanders (2003); The Development of Religion, the Religion of Development (2004) and A World of Insecurity: Anthropological perspectives on human security (2010).


1. Introduction: Constructing religion and religions in Asia 
Bryan S. Turner and Oscar Salemink

Asian Origins: religious formations

2. The Invention of Religions in East Asia 
Jason Ananda Josephson

3. Revealing the Vedas in ‘Hinduism’: Foundations and Issues of Interpretations of Religion in South Asian Hindu Traditions 
Andrea Marion Pinkney

4. Dual Belief in Heaven and Spirits: The Metaphysical Foundation of Confucian Morality 
Kwang-kuo Hwang

5. Sikhism and its Changing Social Structure 
Surinder Jodhka and Kristina Myrvold

Missions, States and Religious Competition

6. Catholicism in India 
Thomas J. Csordas and Amrita Kurian

7. The Localization of Roman Catholicism: Radical Transcendence and Social Empathy in a Philippine Town 
Julius Bautista

8. The Spread of Islam in Asia through Trade and Sufism (ninth-nineteenth century) 
Paul Wormser

Reform Movements and Modernity

9. Shinto’s Modern Transformations: From Imperial Cult to Nature Worship 
Aike P. Rots

10. Islamic Reform in Asia 
Irfan Ahmad

11. Engaged Buddhism in 1920s Japan: the Young East mission for social reform, global Buddhism and world peace 
Judith Snodgrass

12. Conversion in post-Mao China: from “Rice Christians” to “Cultural Christians” 
Zheng Yangwen

Popular Religions

13. Shamanism in Eurasia: A Mongolian case study in a comparative light 
Morten Axel Pedersen

14. Chinese folk festivals 
Thomas DuBois

15. Popular Buddhism: Monks, Magic and Amulets 
James Taylor

16. Spirit worship and possession in Vietnam and beyond 
Oscar Salemink

17. Popular Qigong and Transnational Falun Gong Inside and Outside Post-Mao China 
Scott Dalby

18. Shrines, Religious Healing, and Pilgrimage in South Asia 
Carla Bellamy

19. Revitalised Sufism and the New Piety Movements in Islamic Southeast Asia 
Julia Day Howell

Religion and Globalization: social dimensions

20. Reading Gender and Religion in East Asia: Family Formations and Cultural Transformations 
Fang-Long Shi

21. Confucian Values and East Asian Capitalism: A Variable Weberian Trajectory 
Jack Barbalet

22. Religion and Asia’s Middle Classes 
Daromir Rudnyckyj

23. Buddhism: modernization or globalization? 
Lionel Obadia

24. Hinduism and Globalization: Gurus, Yoga and Migration in Northern Europe 
Knut Axel Jacobsen

25. Internet and Religion in Asia 
Sam Han

26. Globalising the Asian Muslim Umma: Alternating Movements East-West of Spirituality, Reform and Militant Jihad 
Pnina Werbner

27. Asian Pentecostalism: Revivals, Mega-Churches, and Social Engagement 
Terence Chong and Daniel P.S. Goh


28. Religion, Religions and Modernization 
Bryan S. Turner

As all good handbooks, this one is a mine of information, including a host of references for following up the reading of any one of its chapters. More than that, many of its chapters, but especially its introduction and conclusion, contextualise their topics in theoretical debates in the sociological, anthropological and historical comparison of religions, wisely avoiding any attempts at authoritative definitions. But the best thing about it is the focus, beyond doctrines and philosophies, on religious practices be they internet puja, mother-goddess spirit possession, or the sacralisation of place.
Stephan Feuchtwang, London School of Economics, UK

Religions in Asia presents a truly global combination of overviews and focused studies that traverses an Asian diasporic world stretching from London to Mongolia and deals with topics as diverse as amulets and the internet. This theoretically-informed collection will be welcomed by all those seeking authoritative but student-friendly essays that illuminate the multiple ways in which global interactions continue to influence Asia’s religious beliefs and praxis.
Barbara Watson Andaya, University of Hawai‛i

The Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia boldly challenges, critiques, and expands social scientific theories of religion as it illuminates religious practices and global connections. This handbook’s vast scope makes it a necessary reference for anyone interested in contemporary religion, globalization, and social change in Asia.  
Rachel Rinaldo, University of Virginia, USA

This brilliant collection is a must-read for anyone interested in the religions of Asia. One of the rare books that offers a truly cosmopolitan dialogue across disciplines and cultures, it pushes the boundaries of contemporary thought on religion. A symphonic account of religions in Asia as they go through profound transformations in our global age, this volume prepares us for a better understanding of the future of religions.
Anna Sun, Kenyon College, USA

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