Migrating Buddhas and Global Confucianism: The Transnational Space-Making of Taiwanese Religious Organizations

Nikolas Broy (SFB 1199), Jens Reinke (SFB 1199) & Philip Clart (SFB 1199 & Leipzig U)

Publication Date

September 2017


Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag




Working Paper

Working Paper Series

SFB 1199 Working Paper



Additional Information


This project explores the global spread of the two Taiwanese religious organizations Foguangshan (“Buddha’s Light Mountain”) and Yiguandao (“Way of Pervading Unity”) by studying their transnational religious spaces. Particularly since the gradual relaxation of political restraints in 1980s Taiwan, both religious organizations have started to spread their religious and cultural traditions on a global scale. Their endeavours connect, cross, and inhabit countries affected by Chinese migration as well as facilitate cross-border spatial arrangements such as transnational communities (including Chinese diaspora/Chinese cultural sphere/Buddhism). By focusing on three primary field sites, namely South Africa, the United States, and East Asia (China and Japan), and applying the methodological framework of multi-sited ethnography, we aim to understand the transnational organizational structures, the creation of transnational social spaces, and the dynamics of central control and decentralization of the two religious organizations.

This project is a part of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199: “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition”, which deals with questions like what characterizes the spaces made by people, how they relate to one another, and whether resulting spatial orders are becoming increasingly complex within the context of globalization processes. Of all projects at this centre, this project is the only one dealing specifically with religion and processes of spatialization under the global condition.

Biographical Notes

Dr. Nikolas Broy (SFB 1199 & Institute for the Study of Religions, Leipzig University, Germany)
Nikolas Broy has been trained in religious studies and Chinese studies at Leipzig University, where he also gained a PhD in religious studies. By combining these two fields of study, his research addresses popular religious sects in modern Chinese societies, Buddhism and violence in East Asia, as well as method and theory of religious studies. He has also studied Japanese at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. He held teaching and research positions in Leipzig, at the East Asia Department of the University of Göttingen, and worked at two universities in Hefei (PR China).

Jens Reinke (SFB 1199, Leipzig University, Germany)
Jens Reinke studied Chinese and religious studies in Berlin and Taipei. Currently, he is doing a PhD at Leipzig University. His research interests include modern and contemporary Taiwanese and Chinese Buddhism, post-war developments in Pure Land Buddhism, internationalization strategies of Chinese Buddhist groups, and interaction between different ranches of Buddhism in a global context. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Chinese-speaking world, mainly in Taiwan, but also in China and among overseas Chinese communities.

Prof. PhD Philip Clart (SFB 1199 & Institute of East Asian Studies, Leipzig University, Germany)
After academic way stations in Bonn (Germany), Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), and Columbia (Missouri, USA), Philip Clart has been working as professor of Chinese culture and history at Leipzig University for the last eight years. His main research areas are history, sociology, and anthropology of Chinese religions, as well as the interactions of religion and literature in late Imperial China. He is co-editor of the monograph series Leipziger Ostasienstudien and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Chinese Religions.