East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Nov. 15 Workshop


Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Returning to Heaven: Kōminka Movement and the Temple Rearranging Policy 1937-1945”
Presenter: Chengpang Lee
Doctoral Student of Sociology, University of Chicago

4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday
Nov. 15, 2011
Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Abstract: In this preliminary project, I plan to examine a specific religious policy of the Japanese colonial government in Taiwan during the Kōminka movement. I focus on a special period from 1937 to 1945 when the Japanese empire waged its total war against China. The colonial government initiated a series of influential nationalization movement (Kōminka)–literally means making the Taiwanese “true” Japanese. Under this context, I will discuss the specific issue of temple rearrangement policy. The temple rearrangement policy is a top-down policy with a goal to eliminate those deteriorating elements in traditional religions. It contains several levels of actions and has been interpreted differently by local bureaucrats. Traditional religious gods were either destroyed or stored (put away) in the name of letting them “returning-to-heaven”. The symbolic meaning of this action in letting those gods return to heaven signifies the welcoming of a new spirit. In other words, the policy not only set to rearrange temples but also to rebuild the national spirit. I discuss why this policy was formed and explore the techniques of which colonial government relied on to implement this goal. There are two strategies. One is through spatial rearrangement and another is the censoring of daily practice. However, unlike nationalist scholars’ argument, I argue that the failure of this extreme project of social discipline did not root in the so-called Anti-Japanese nationalism. Contrary to this common assumption, collaboration is always an overlooked theme. Thus, the root of resistance should be found in other place.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Yang Zhang (yangzhang@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.