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Multi-scaled secularization or postsecular present? Christianity and migrant workers in Shenzhen, China

Lookup NU author(s): Quan Gao


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© 2018, The Author(s) 2018. This article provides a multi-scaled, grounded understanding of how secularization and re-sacralization occur simultaneously in a context of rapid modernization. Recent geographical scholarships in the geography of religion have exhibited deficient reflection over the geo-historical contingencies and complexities of secularization and secularity. This article seeks to re-conceptualize secularization as a multi-scaled, grounded and self-reflective process through an empirical research of the hybrid, contradictory processes of secularization and postsecular religious revival in a ‘gospel village’ in Shenzhen, China. In this rapidly urbanizing village, Christian belief inherited from Western missionary work has gradually lost its hold amidst modernization and urbanization. However, the inflow of rural migrant workers has re-invigorated the church. Christianity has created possibilities for postsecular ethics and resistances, enabling migrant workers to materially, symbolically and emotionally settle in a new socio-economic environment. Also, new situated religiosities arise as theological interpretations are used to negotiate and even legitimize social inequalities and alienation. This article therefore argues that the postsecular turn in human geography needs to consider how the postsecular articulates, and co-evolves with, secular conditions of being in the world. It highlights the hybrid and contested nature of the secularization process, which gives rise not only to disengaged belief and immanent consciousness but also to new aspirations for, and formations of, religiosities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gao Q, Qian J, Yuan Z

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Geographies

Year: 2018

Volume: 25

Issue: 4

Pages: 553-570

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 14/03/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1474-4740

ISSN (electronic): 1477-0881

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/1474474018762814


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