Evangelical urbanization and spatial transformation in Shanghai (completed)

Weishan Huang

Shanghai has experienced large-scale social changes since the late 1980s. It is critical to understand how socio-structural challenges, such as immigration, urban restructuring, and entrepreneurialism affect faith-based groups within the framework of urban aspirations. Shanghai’s primary economic activity is based on diversified industrial production, but the city also boasts a port, financial markets and a high-tech sector, such as Lujiashu and Zhangjiang high-tech Park in Pudong. The magnetism of Shanghai in drawing high concentrations of transnational capital-linked migrants and transnational business professionals has also created a resource base that has a significant effect on the religious ecology of the city.

My research is based on the premise that the shifting terrain of religion in urban areas can be understood through a spatial transformation. I have discovered a new phenomenon of “evangelical urbanization” in China from preliminary research looking at a few specific Christian religious movements in Shanghai. I argue that capital-linked migrants (second-migration ethnic Chinese) have been pioneers of transnational production in both high-tech sectors and non-denominational Christianity in Pudong, since these foreign passport holders migrated with aspirations of entrepreneurship, evangelicalism and patriotism. Increasing urbanization has also significantly contributed to this continued religious phenomenon. 

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