New Chinese Mobility and Religious Enchantment: Case study in Chiang Mai Province
This study examines the religious experiences of new Chinese immigrants in Thailand. In particular, the study explores changes in values and religions during their migration. The new Chinese mobility has been increasing dramatically in Thailand today. Approximately one hundred thousand Chinese migrants have flown to Bangkok and Thai large cities for mainly trans-national businesses, economic ventures and trading activities. Apart from these phenomena, it is interesting that in cultural and religious spheres, not only have Chinese churches been increasing, but also many new Chinese migrants have joined Chinese churches and Christian communities by converting to be Christian members. This article explores the situation of new Chinese migrants and their conversion
to Christianity in Chiang Mai, as a case study. I apply the concept of religious enchantment to examine how religious lives and religious activities of new Chinese migrants in Chiang Mai have emerged and what the roles of Chinese Christian churches are in encouraging the religious enchantment. I use qualitative interviews, observation and participatory research, while I myself was a volunteer at the Chinese churches in order to collect information over several months.
The paper finds that the Chinese churches have served an important role in institutionally guiding and shaping new Chinese migrants’ beliefs, values, attitudes, and religious practices. Also, that women take an important role in religious enchantment. Moreover, new Chinese immigrants themselves have engaged enthusiastically in Christian conversion in gaining a sense of morality from the nonreligious concerns in relation to religious subjectivity in the modern world.
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