Maoism and religion

Maoism and Grassroots Religion: The Communist Revolution and the Reinvention of Religious Life in China by Xiaoxuan Wang and published by Oxford University Press is reviewed for JCA by Zhixi Wang of the College of Liberal Arts, Shantou University, China.

The reviewer considers Wang’s book book “timely” and “enriching our understanding of religious life under Maoism at the grassroots level.” The book tells a story of Wenzhou’s local religions – including Buddhism, Christianity, salvationists and Daoism – and their encounters with Maoist politics. These encounters are considered through the “various political and socio-economic movements of the time – that is, the land reform, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.”

Remarkably, some of these religions saw periods of resurgence and growth amidst political tumult. Even so, the Maoist era challenged religious institutions and practicing individuals and the book also examines the re-development of organised religion in the post-Mao era.

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