China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
To what extent do transnational historical materials - and the collective ways in which they are produced and imagined - shape religious identity and social influences in modern China and Taiwan? This panel explores how key moments in East Asian history may be critically reevaluated through the lenses of religious materiality’s inherent “in-betweenness.” We will discuss how public artifacts, grassroots history-making, and visual media embodied multiple Chinese Christianities from the late 19th through 21st centuries. Using interdisciplinary approaches from visual and material culture, religious history, and cultural history, we investigate how Protestant and Catholic communities created historical counter-narratives, with artifacts, stories, and images crossing (or countering) state and imperial institutions. In doing so, we provide new perspectives on untapped resources ranging from propaganda posters and personal photographs to local ethnographies and museum displays.
Daryl Ireland discusses how Chinese Christian posters subverted Nationalist and Communist propaganda, using print media to advance alternative views of “national salvation” for mass audiences. Ji Li explores local histories of Catholic community through a missionary record of village conversations in Manchuria, situating everyday meaning-making in global religious imaginations. Joseph W. Ho looks at films and photographs that reshaped perceptions of loss and futurity in the post-1949 Christian diaspora from Mainland China to Taiwan. Marina Xiaojing Wang and Chris White (co-authors) examine the recovery and political re-negotiations of Chinese Christian history in 21st century city museums. Our panel illuminates the multimedia means by which transnational religious experiences in modern China and Taiwan are translated, circulated, and contested.