Humanities Forum #12 - Temple Network in Fujian and Southeast Asia: An analysis of Religious Inscriptions


The 12th Talk of XMUM Humanities Forum was held online on 9 May 2022, with an audience of about 300 people.

During the forum, Prof. Zheng Zhenman from Xiamen University gave a public talk themed“Temple Network in Fujian and Southeast Asia: Analysis of Religious Inscriptions”. 

Based on his recent fieldwork, Prof. Zheng Zhenman argued that temples and the trust system behind them are the critical nodes which allow Chinese immigrants to establish their roots and form commercial networks overseas. He used inscriptional material to analyze the links between migrants and their homeland, arguing that there were three stages of change: 

In late Ming and early Qing, the temples were the link between immigrants and their hometowns, an extension and branch of their clans and village communities.

Later in the mid-Qing period, as immigrants had set down their roots overseas, the temples were used to worship their ancestors and the gods in their hometowns, forming temple-centered overseas Chinese communities.

After 1860, the internationalization of the immigrant network has been significantly increased. Thus, the temples established by immigrants have been endowed with multiple functions and multiple cultural traits.

At the end of the lecture, Prof. Zheng Zhenman suggested that to explore the global history in temples, we should understand overseas Chinese groups in international connections, paying attention to their transnational living spaces and the significance of China's local social and cultural resources to overseas Chinese.

About Prof. Zheng Zhenman

Prof. Zheng Zhenman(郑振满)is a Distinguished Professor from Department of History, Xiamen University (XMU). He received his Ph.D in History and served as the Director of Center for XMU Research on Local Historical Documents. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (USA), McGill University (Canada), and Oxford University (UK). Since 1990, he has collaborated with Prof. Kenneth Dean, the former James McGill Professor of Department of East Asian Studies, McGill University and currently the Raffles Professor in Humanities at National University of Singapore, on research projects related to the socio-cultural history of Southeast China. His works include Family Lineage Organization and Social Change in Ming and Qing Fujian, Community Lineage and the State: Traditional Society of Fujian and Taiwan from Multiple Perspectives, Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plains: Vol. 1: Historical Introduction to the Return of the Gods and Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plains: Vol. 2: A survey of Village Temples and Ritual Activities.

News & Events

A Glance at XMUMC