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The Role of Religious Force in the Wukan Incident

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image of The China Nonprofit Review

Abstract The Wukan Incident attracted extensive attention both in China and around the world, and has been interpreted from many different perspectives. In both the media and academia, the focus has very much been on the temporal level of the Incident. The political and legal dimensions, as well as the implications of the Incident in terms of human rights have all been pored over. However, what all of these discussions have overlooked is the role played by religious force during the Incident. The village of Wukan has a history of over four hundred years, and is deeply influenced by the religious beliefs of its people. Within both the system of religious beliefs and in everyday life in the village, the divine immortal Zhenxiu Xianweng and the religious rite of casting shengbei have a powerful influence. In times of peace, Xianweng and casting shengbei work to bestow good fortune, wealth and longevity on both the village itself, and the individuals who live there. During the Wukan Incident, they had a harmonizing influence, and helped to unify and protect the people. Looking at the specific roles played by religion throughout the Wukan Incident will not only enable us to develop a more meaningful understanding of the cultural nature and the complexity of the Incident itself, it will also enrich our understanding, on a divine level, of innovations in social management.


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