Edited by Stephan Feuchtwang
Chapter 9: Redemptive societies
One of the most remarkable responses of Chinese people to the incursions of imperialist capitalism, and the need to renew the strength of China and reach out to the globe and aspire to visions of modernity, was to form universalizing, world-reforming redemptive societies, the subject of this chapter. It focuses mainly on the early twentieth century, when they were most prolific, despite secularizing actions by the Nationalist republican government and despite their own claims to be patriotic and scientific. They produced their own scriptures through spirit-writing, they were syncretic, they linked political elites with ordinary people, and although Confucian many were hospitable to women’s participation and leadership. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) repressed them, but many flourish among the Chinese in Southeast Asia, and some, such as the Yiguandao, have revived in the PRC in this century.
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