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TitleThe Householder Elite: Buddhist Activism in Shanghai, 1920-1956
AuthorJessup, James Brooks
UniversityU.C. Berkeley
Thesis typePh.D
Number of pages95
AbstractThis dissertation is a social history of the urban community of lay Buddhist elites, known as
“householders,” that vigorously pursued a mission of Buddhist activism in Shanghai during the
first half of the twentieth century. The Shanghai householders were capitalists, doctors, lawyers,
intellectuals and party members who chose to make a formal commitment to Buddhism and its
goals of salvation yet retained their status as regular members of society with families and
careers. They comprised the largest and most influential of the elite lay Buddhist communities
that sprang up in cities across China during the Republican era. This study analyzes the social
significance of the Shanghai householder community as it transitioned through a series of social
and political upheavals from its emergence in the 1920s to its eventual demise amidst the
transition to socialism in 1956. I argue that throughout these years Buddhist activism constituted
an arena of civic culture in which urban elites were able to establish a durable source of moral
authority and social legitimacy.
Keywords (en)China;Shanghai;religion;Buddhism;state;war;collaboration;Japan;power;charity
Place of eventShanghai
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