The Expropriation of Buddhist and Daoist Property for National Interest: Legal and Social Disputes on Takeover of Temples for Establishing Schools in the Republican Period

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Abstract

From the late Qing dynasty to the early Republican period, the campaigns launched by the pro-education groups to destroy temples and confiscate temple land for secular education not only brought about serious impacts on Buddhism and Daoism, but also provoked critical confrontations between the pro-religion camp and the pro-education camp in China. The Republican government justified those takeover cases, either passed down from the late Qing or occurring in the Republican period, by claiming education was the foundation of a modern country. On the other hand, the government had to navigate between the fine line of private property rights and public interest. Pro-education groups and officials legitimize the appropriation of Buddhist and Daoist temples in the name of public use and social justice, while reformist monks and priests defended their temples by drawing upon the law of property rights and articulating the social relevance of religious activities. In this regards, the expropriation made by the government needed to be based on both legitimacy and legality (for example, due process of law). This paper compares the legal materials issued by the court (the decisions of Dali Yuan, 1912-1928 and Pingzheng Yuan, 1914-1928) with the public debates in the press (modern newspaper and Buddhist journals), in order to examine the structure/agency relationship among those events. In their fighting against the government and pro-education groups, Buddhist and Daoist actors gradually “modernized” their way to defend their properties by adopting the western concept of “foundation constituted as a juristic person” in modern Chinese legal system, to establish both national and local religious associations as advocacy groups, and to engage in various social enterprises, such as education and publication.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAAS-in-ASIA Conference: ASIA IN MOTION - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Jun 24 2017Jun 27 2017

Conference

ConferenceAAS-in-ASIA Conference: ASIA IN MOTION
CountryKorea, Republic of
CitySeoul
Period6/24/176/27/17

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