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Crossing the LINE to the Digital Era: Chinese Popular Religion in Transition

This talk discusses a new direction in the ongoing development of Chinese religion and media. It takes an urban shrine as an example to explore how a web-based messaging software, LINE, characterized by the qualities of placelessness, instantaneity, and individuality, has allowed a spirit medium to transcend place and time, providing immediate support and companionship to his followers who may be scattered all over Taiwan. The deity, through its online presence, has become more approachable, considerate, and caring. “God is everywhere” and is readily accessible now. Thus, a novel kind of closeness and intimacy has emerged by which people perceive and experience this new power of deities in the digital age. Furthermore, the digitalization of religion has brought about a profound change in the religious world, including in rituals, religious organization, and material practices in web-based religion. In particular, the younger generation, agile in the use of new technology, exerts much greater influence on religion in the internet era.


▌ About the Lecturer

Lin Wei-Ping

Lin Wei-Ping received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cambridge University. She is a Professor at National Taiwan University. She was affiliated with the Harvard-Yenching Institute in 2005-6 and 2017-8, and with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University in 2012-3. Her interests include Chinese religion (including topics related to material culture, spirit mediums, and urban religious transformation), kinship, and digital technologies. She is the author of Materializing Magic Power: Chinese Popular Religion in Villages and Cities (Harvard University Asia Center, 2015), and the editor of Mediating Religion: Music, Image, Object and New Media (Taiwan University Press, 2018; in Chinese).


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