Jan Kiely and J. Brooks Jessup, eds.
Recovering Buddhism in Modern China
Columbia University Press 2016
New Books in Buddhist StudiesNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books Network December 23, 2016 Carla Nappi
The essays in Jan Kiely and J. Brooks Jessup’s new edited volume, Recovering Buddhism in Modern China (Columbia University Press, 2016), collectively make a compelling argument that Buddhism and Buddhists played important roles in the modern transformations of China from the twentieth century through today. Though history scholarship has, relatively speaking, neglected to pay attention to the roles of Buddhism in these transformations part of a more general tendency to marginalize the significance of Chinese religion in China’s modern period Kiely and Jessup’s volume is part of an emerging field of scholars who are beginning to change that. The essays cluster around several key themes. Many pay special attention to revivalist projects of clerics and laity, some of which helped make Buddhism the Chinese religion that was most legible to the modern state. Some explore the broad significance of lay Buddhists and lay Buddhist associations to the making of modern China. Some seek to understand Buddhism and Buddhists as part of larger histories of nationalism and projects of nation-building in modern China. Some focus on the significance of studying Buddhism in modern China in local contexts and from the perspective of local society. Taken together, its a great collection that deserves a wide readership!