East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 17, Xiao-bo Yuan, “Economies of Exposure: the ethics of concealment and revelation in Chinese Christianities”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents


 “Economies of Exposure: the ethics of concealment and revelation in Chinese Christianities”

Xiao-bo Yuan

PhD Student, Department of Anthropology

The University of Chicago

4:30-6:00p.m., Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


In this presentation, I draw on fieldwork conducted among Christian communities in the Nanjing metropolitan area to examine how aspirations to publicity or secrecy are expressed and contested within different (registered and unregistered) Christian communities. Through these cases, I examine how publicity and secrecy are calibrated and given value, and how assumptions about the intersections between religious belief and public life give shape to very different Christian institutional forms and practices in China. Rather than considering the above- and underground distinction to be primarily a product of state regulations and churches’ assent or resistance to government monitoring, this paper attends to the labors of Christian institutions in “opening up” and “going underground” as projects of producing specific kinds of (in)visibility. These labors are informed, I suggest, by “economies of exposure” — differentially distributed possibilities for challenging the state’s structures of legibility for religious organizations. Here, I explore the sensibilities toward publicity and secrecy, exposure and concealment, that organize the practices of Christians in China. What forms of publicity do churches aspire to, and how are they motivated to do so? How are conditions of secrecy maintained in other instances? What kinds of Christian subjects are produced through the work of revelation and concealment?


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Yan Xu (xuyan@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Xi Song, Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao


This presentation 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.

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