At the turn of the twentieth century, theorists believed that “superstitious” practices belonged to a world destined for irrelevance. Chinese elites agreed with this prediction, and throughout the century different political regimes attempted to eradicate superstition as a way to expedite the arrival of modernity. Yet superstition has endured. This conference investigates the history of superstition in modern China, interrogating the ways that superstitious beliefs have persisted and adopted new forms in the face of state repression.
Thursday, May 19th
Panel 1
9:15-10:45 a.m.: Gender and Superstition
“Superstition and Masculine Status Formation among Cadres in North China, 1961-1966,” Long Yang (University of Freiburg)
“Women, Nation, and Superstition in Sinophone Muslims’ Reform Discourses during the Republican Era,” Vincent Chen (Ohio State)
Discussant: Hu Ying (UC Irvine)

Panel 2
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Superstition Under Mao
“Fate, Fatalism, and Superstition in Early Maoist China,”  Emily Baum (UC Irvine)
“Ideology versus Expediency: The Struggle to Eliminate Superstitious Products in the Mao Era,” Steve Smith (Oxford)
Discussant: Jeff Wasserstrom (UC Irvine)

Friday, May 20th

Panel 3
9:15-10:45 a.m.: Superstition and Science
“Disembodied Spirits or Multiple Personalities? Psychical Research and the Redefinition of Superstition in Republican China,” Luis Junquiera (University College London)
“The Affective Ties of Religion and Enlightenment: Tales of Medicine and Superstition,” Rebecca Nedostup (Brown University)
Discussant: Mei Zhan (UC Irvine)

Panel 4
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Magic and Modernity
“Invulnerability and Magical Martial Arts: The Red Spear Groups and their Encounter with the CCP,” Yupeng Jiao (NYU Shanghai)
“Reimagining Superstition in the Digital Age,” Zhange Ni (Virginia Tech)
Discussant: Li Zhang (UC Irvine)


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