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The Wrath of the Dragon King: Popular Religion and the 1931 Central China Flood.

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In 1931 the Central Chinese city of Wuhan experienced a catastrophic flood. Amongst the numerous explanations given for this disaster, one of the most popular was that a Dragon King, angered by the recent demolition of his temple, was wreaking vengeance upon the city. In this talk I will use this event to highlight the broader clash between popular religion and secularist reform in early twentieth century China. This is often characterised as a conflict between the hegemonic forces of modernity and the religious freedom of beleaguered traditionalists. The Dragon King controversy reveals a far more complex dynamic, in which popular religion came to serve a variety of political purposes.

This talk is part of the Caius MCR/SCR research talks series.

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