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Handbook of Religion and the Asian City

Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century

Peter van der Veer (Editor)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 488 pages
ISBN: 9780520281226
May 2015
$150.00, £116.00
Other Formats Available:
Handbook of Religion and the Asian City highlights the creative and innovative role of urban aspirations in Asian world cities. It does not assume that religion is of the past and that the urban is secular, but instead points out that urban politics and governance often manifest religious boundaries and sensibilities—in short, that public religion is politics. The essays in this book show how projects of secularism come up against projects and ambitions of a religious nature, a particular form of contestation that takes the city as its public arena.

Questioning the limits of cities like Mumbai, Singapore, Seoul, Beijing, Bangkok, and Shanghai, the authors assert that Asian cities have to be understood not as global models of futuristic city planning but as larger landscapes of spatial imagination that have specific cultural and political trajectories. Religion plays a central role in the politics of heritage that is emerging from the debris of modernist city planning.

Megacities are arenas for the assertion of national and transnational aspirations as Asia confronts modernity. Cities are also sites of speculation, not only for those who invest in real estate but also for those who look for housing, employment, and salvation. In its potential and actual mobility, the sacred creates social space in which they all can meet. Handbook of Religion and the Asian City makes the comparative case that one cannot study the historical patterns of urbanization in Asia without paying attention to the role of religion in urban aspirations.
Introduction: Urban Theory, Asia, and Religion (Peter van der Veer)

1. In Place of Ritual: Global City, Sacred Space, and the Guanyin Temple in Singapore (Daniel P. S. Goh)
2. The City and the Pagoda: Buddhist Spatial Tactics in Shanghai (Francesca Tarocco)
3. Territorial Cults and the Urbanization of the Chinese World: A Case Study of Suzhou (Vincent Goossaert)
4. Global and Religious: Urban Aspirations and the Governance of Religions in Metro Manila (Jayeel Serrano Cornelio)
5. The Muharram Procession of Mumbai: From Seafront to Cemetery (Reza Masoudi Nejad)
6. Urban Processions: Colonial Decline and Revival as Heritage in Postcolonial Hong Kong (Joseph Bosco)

7. Urban Megachurches and Contentious Religious Politics in Seoul (Ju Hui Judy Han)
8. Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good (Trust) Deeds: Parsis, Risk, and Real Estate in Mumbai (Leilah Vevaina)
9. The Urban Development and Heritage Contestation of Bangkok’s Chinatown (Tiamsoon Sirisrisak)
10. Dealing with the Dragon: Urban Planning in Hanoi (Tam T. T. Ngo)
11. Contested Religious Space in Jakarta: Negotiating Politics, Capital, and Ethnicity (Chang-Yau Hoon)
12. Urban Buddhism in the Thai Postmetropolis (James Taylor)

13. From Village to City: Hinduism and the “Hindu Caste System” (Nathaniel Roberts)
14. The Politics of Desecularization: Christian Churches and North Korean Migrants in Seoul (Jin-Heon Jung)
15. Parallel Universes: Chinese Temple Networks in Singapore, or What Is Missing in the Singapore Model? (Kenneth Dean)

16. The Flexibility of Religion: Buddhist Temples as Multiaspirational Sites in Contemporary Beijing (Gareth Fisher)
17. Cultivating Happiness: Psychotherapy, Spirituality, and Well-Being in a Transforming Urban China (Li Zhang)
18. Other Christians as Christian Others: Signs of New Christian Populations and the Urban Expansion of Seoul (Nicholas Harkness)
19. Aspiring in Karachi: Breathing Life into the City of Death (Noman Baig)
20. Can Commodities Be Sacred? Material Religion in Seoul and Hanoi (Laurel Kendall)

21. Cinema and Karachi in the 1960s: Cultural Wounds and National Cohesion (Kamran Asdar Ali)
22. The Cinematic Soteriology of Bollywood (Arjun Appadurai)
23. Media, Urban Aspirations, and Religious Mobilization among Twelver Shi?ite Muslims in Mumbai (Patrick Eisenlohr)
24. Internet Hindus: Right-Wingers as New India’s Ideological Warriors (Sahana Udupa)

List of Contributors
Peter van der Veer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen and University Professor at Large at Utrecht University. He is the author of The Modern Spirit of Asia, Gods on Earth, Religious Nationalism, and Imperial Encounters, among other publications.
"The book is successful in unpacking an original research question and assessing a set of concepts that deserve more nuanced articulations. It is a book worth reading."—Social Sciences and Missions
“Combining theoretical creativity with vivid ethnography, van der Veer’s groundbreaking collection of essays explores the distinctive patterns of enchanted aspiration arising from the Asian metropolises that have become new centers of wealth and power, with consequences for the entire interdependent world.”­—Richard Madsen, University of California, San Diego, author of Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan

Handbook of Religion and the Asian City complicates conventional assumptions equating modernity with secularism. Through richly documented case studies grounded in subtle ethnographic and historical analyses of kin-based, local, national, regional, and religious formations of sociality and aspiration, the various authors detail the vicissitudes of religiosity in spaces that in turn call for a rethinking of what we mean by urban life."—Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, author of Evicted from Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome

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