The proposed project focuses on Chinese Buddhism on Mt. Jiuhua in the Mao era (1949–1978), especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) when the persecution of Buddhism was in full swing. Mt. Jiuhua located in Qingyang County, Anhui Province, has been identified as the abode of Dizang Bodhisattva since the late Ming period. Primarily using access-restricted archives that I have gathered in Qingyang, this project serves as a case study to examine the dramatic destruction and transformation of Chinese Buddhism. This project sheds light on the complicated relationship between religion and state and contributes to the discussion of secularization and modernization of religion.
My research examines four interrelated aspects of Buddhism on Mt. Jiuhua under Maoism. First, based on the activities of an elite Buddhist, Yifang (1914–1959), it addresses how progressive Buddhists like Yifang were educated to support the new socialist regime. Second, it examines the mobilization of Jiuhua Buddhists to participate in land reforms and the fundamental shift of their economic basics. Third, it investigates the reorientation of Jiuhua Buddhism on a global scale through Buddhist diplomacy and the reception of overseas pilgrims. Fourth, it focuses on the material devastation that happened to Jiuhua Buddhism during the Cultural Revolution, a tumultuous period of political chaos and violence.