The Modern Spirit of Asia: The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India

The Modern Spirit of Asia: The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India

by Peter van der Veer
     
 

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The Modern Spirit of Asia challenges the notion that modernity in China and India are derivative imitations of the West, arguing that these societies have transformed their ancient traditions in unique and distinctive ways. Peter van der Veer begins with nineteenth-century imperial history, exploring how Western concepts of spirituality,

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Overview

The Modern Spirit of Asia challenges the notion that modernity in China and India are derivative imitations of the West, arguing that these societies have transformed their ancient traditions in unique and distinctive ways. Peter van der Veer begins with nineteenth-century imperial history, exploring how Western concepts of spirituality, secularity, religion, and magic were used to translate the traditions of India and China. He traces how modern Western notions of religion and magic were incorporated into the respective nation-building projects of Chinese and Indian nationalist intellectuals, yet how modernity in China and India is by no means uniform. While religion is a centerpiece of Indian nationalism, it is viewed in China as an obstacle to progress that must be marginalized and controlled.

The Modern Spirit of Asia moves deftly from Kandinsky's understanding of spirituality in art to Indian yoga and Chinese qi gong, from modern theories of secularism to histories of Christian conversion, from Orientalist constructions of religion to Chinese campaigns against magic and superstition, and from Muslim Kashmir to Muslim Xinjiang. Van der Veer, an outspoken proponent of the importance of comparative studies of religion and society, eloquently makes his case in this groundbreaking examination of the spiritual and the secular in China and India.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Finalist for the 2014 Award for Excellence in Religion in Analytical-Descriptive Studies, American Academy of Religion

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014

"A fascinating read."--Nick Leech, National

"The authority of this study is based on a combination of field research in each of the two nations (China and India), along with an impressive command of the literature and tools of cultural anthropology, comparative sociology, and conceptual analysis. The author is a well-respected, contemporary European social scientist, and this study is likely to stimulate intense scholarly discussion for years ahead."--Choice

"[A] particularly outstanding work."--Guo Ting, Oxford Comparative Critical Review

"One of the many merits of Peter van der Veer's The Modern Spirit of Asia is that he acknowledges the unprecedented nature of 'the project of modernity with all its revolutionary ideas of nation, equality, citizenship, democracy, and rights,' yet shows how it has taken strikingly different shapes in the Chinese and Indian cultural spheres."--Benjamin Schewel, Hedgehog Review

"This is an important book, which will be useful for helping scholars of Chinese religion think more deeply about the question of modernity."--Erik Hammerstrom, Review of Religion and Chinese Society

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400848553
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/27/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
359,348
File size:
8 MB

Meet the Author

Peter van der Veer is director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany, and a Distinguished Professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His books include Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton) and Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India.

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