Praying Together: A Chinese Catholic Village in the People’s Republic
Eriberto P. Lozada Jr.
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
The rapid penetration of transnational processes into the People’s Republic of China since the opening of China’s global frontiers during the post-Mao era has resulted in the re-definition and creation of new social structures and cultural forms for rural communities that are re-examining what it means to be local. Based on fieldwork conducted between 1993 and 1997, this dissertation focuses on the re-surfacing of a Catholic Church in a Hakka village in Jiaoling County, Guangdong to ethnographically analyze how transnational processes affect what it means to be part of a global and modern rural community in China. The Hakka are a Chinese diasporic group that have in the past few decades mobilized international campaigns to solidify ethnic solidarity. Catholic villagers in the Hakka homeland, after surviving various campaigns of persecution during the Maoist period, incorporated their village church into the state administrative religious structure while remaining faithful to their Catholic traditions. An examination of life-cycle rituals such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, community-wide events such as the building of a new church and a celebration of Christmas, and other daily activities in village life illustrates how a multiplicity of national and transnational processes — the privatization of local sectors of the socialist economy, the global movement of people as workers, students, and tourists, the rapid modernization of Chinese production and consumption, and the participation in a world religious tradition — coalesce as part of a social narrative that creates locality. Catholicism has simultaneously defined deterritorialized local community boundaries while connecting people to the global world.