Thursday, January 07, 2016

Four dimensional!

I've been reconnecting with friends and colleagues from my year at Fudan - seven in two days! But/and I've also been working on my Spring Lang courses in that indirect way of mine. Today I clinched a deal on "Lived Religion in New York," which I'd imagined renaming "Lived Religion in New York and Shanghai" this time last year but later ruefully decided I couldn't find enough material for. Turns out material for making the contrast has, well, materialized!

Several of my Fudan friends have been working on a project on the religious landscape of Shanghai, and even had an exhibit not so long ago of photographs by one of the participants. Called "上海 • 神圣 / Shanghai Sacred" it was organized around four "dimensions" for making sense of the religious ecology of the city where Chinese modernity was born: landmarks, compounds, privacy and waterways. To varying degrees these are very Shanghai-specific (especially waterways) but that's not a problem. Au contraire, it's a great opportunity!

I think I'll start my class on lived religion in New York with the exhibition brochure, which has a paragraph explaining each of the 4 "dimensions", and propose that our class by semester's end find four "dimensions" for conveying what we've found about New York. Along the way we'll have a teleconference or two with the Shanghai researchers, to learn about their work, understand their "dimensions" better, and share what we've come up with them. Comparative research in religion live!

The cherry on top? A Fudan undergraduate I came to know quite well has become part of the project (I suppose I might have had something to do with that) and is eager to be a sort of foreign correspondent/liaison for us over the course of the semester. 

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