China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Contrary to the European Enlightenment story of secularization, religion has played a visible role in remaking institutions and processes of global capitalism. Religious re-enchantment has become a key feature of the changing global social landscape. As China is being increasingly integrated into global capitalist political economy, more and more Chinese are expected to live transnational lives and conduct business on a global scale. The mass participation of Chinese merchants and traders in migrant churches in Europe is one good example. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Wenzhou, Rome, and Paris, the paper analyzes this migrant Christianity in terms of its transnational production of evangelical networks and sacred space. For many rural-originated migrants who embrace a global hierarchy of places, the evangelical cosmological structure mirrors the split in the global market economy between the peripheral local and the modern global center. This moral-spatial imagination serves to justify their transnational movement and offers a meaningful way of constructing life even though they are unable to access the center of power and prestige in diaspora. As China’s official restrictions on religion increasingly motivate the Chinese house church to channel its resources to a “reverse mission” overseas, a group of transnational Chinese Christians has actively engaged in producing religious activities and events that link China and Europe and in attaching evangelistic meanings and symbolic markings to Europe’s urban space. This paper probes the transnational geography of an indigenous Chinese Christianity.