Catholics of north China


Village Catholics in Xinzhou region, Shanxi 1992. My photo.

One theme of Ian Johnson’s new book The souls of China, also shown in his YouTube clips, is the resurgence of Christianity.

For an introduction to Catholicism in north China, see

  • Richard Madsen, China’s Catholics: tragedy and hope in an emerging civil society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

For Shanxi, I already mentioned a Catholic village in Xinzhou. Villages just south in central Shanxi are the subject of

  • Henrietta Harrison, The missionary’s curse and other tales from a Chinese Catholic village (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).

See also her article

  • “Global modernity, local community, and spiritual power in the Shanxi Catholic church”, in Adam Yuet Chau (ed.), Religion in contemporary China: revitalization and innovation (2011).

Talking of Catholicism in Shanxi, after William Hinton’s remarkable Fanshen, on the land reform in Longbow village in Changzhi municipality, southeast Shanxi, it comes as a surprise to learn in his sequel Shenfan that around 20% of the village’s 2,000 population is Catholic; in nearby Machang the figure is over 80%.

Hinton’s daughter Carma continued his work with some fine films.

As ever, we should bear the whole religious context in mind. South Shanxi is also a focus for studies of the “music households” (yuehu), mainly shawm bands with strong ritual connections. [1] And again, household Daoists are common.

Hebei province is also a hotbed for Catholicism. I discuss the Gaoluo Catholics in a separate page. And for missionaries at the Qing court, see here.

[1] Xiang Yang (2001) Shanxi yuehu yanjiu, Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 2001; Qiao Jian, Liu Guanwen, and Li Tiansheng, Yuehu: tianye diaocha yu lishi zhuizong, Nanchang: Jiangxi renmin chubanshe, 2002.

5 thoughts on “Catholics of north China

  1. Pingback: Catholics of Gaoluo | Stephen Jones: a blog

  2. Pingback: More vignettes from The souls of China | Stephen Jones: a blog

  3. Pingback: 南高洛天主教徒 – YUYENCIANISM

  4. Pingback: Hequ 1953: collecting folk-song | Stephen Jones: a blog

  5. Pingback: Calendrical rituals | Stephen Jones: a blog

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