The Harvard-Yenching Institute is pleased to announce that the fourth book in the NTU & HYI Academic Book Series has been published. The monograph, entitled, 從聖教到道教：馬華社會的節俗、信仰與文化(Transforming “Sacred Religion” into Daoism: Festival, Belief, and Culture in the Chinese Society of Malaysia), by Fong-mao Lee (李豐楙). Additional information about the publication is available here.
Published in May 2018, this book discusses the religious phenomena among the Chinese population of Malaysia. It has four main purposes. First, the research compares the Chinese people in Malaysia with those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau and shows how a “religion-festival integration” (jiao jie yiti) developed in the multi-ethic religious and cultural environment in Malaysia; this is demonstrated by the high participation of Buddhist and Taoist adherents in the festivals. Second, the above perspective enables us to understand how ancestor-related practices, such as the relocation incident in Malacca and Yishan in Kuala Lumpur and the ancestral worship in Pulau Pinang, came to be defined by the local people as a “sacred religion”; the “sacredness” of these practices is particularly emphasized.
Third, the author aims to develop the concept of “idea transplanting” (linian yizhi), by which the celestial inspection of the gods on earth (dai xun), the Nine Emperors (Jiuhuang), the Immortal Masters (Xian shi ye) and the “tang fan” land are transplanted to Malaysia. The popularity of these gods and practices among Malaysian Chinese comes from their trans-local qualities. After Malaysia became a nation-state, they served to solidify the Chinese in Malaysia, leading to the subsequent development of “the Festival of the Nine Emperors” and “the Festival of Fude Culture”.
The book finally argues that Malaysian Chinese are good at applying “the art of unification” to organize religious associations. On a small scale, they united neighborhoods and temples to support Chinese religion. More generally, they set up the General Daoist Association. In the name of Daoism, local temples were united and adherents demanded that the state add the new religious category of Daoism in their citizenship registration. “Sacred Religion” has thus been transformed into “Daosim,” uniting the Chinese into a distinct ethnic category in Malaysia. This argument is a novel and major contribution to Southeast-Asian studies.
You can find more information about the series on the NTU Press website.
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