Buddhist building and the Buddhist revival in the work of Holmes Welch

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Like much of Holmes Welch’s work, the chapter ‘Building and Publishing’ in his The Buddhist Revival in China (1968) is a brief but evocative treatment of a vast topic. The book examines the history of Buddhism in China from the 1860s to 1949, and in this particular chapter he covers two main subject areas: the restoration and building of Buddhist monasteries, and the publishing and distribution of Buddhist printed materials. In this article I will examine in detail the arguments and evidence relating to Chinese Buddhist building and reconstruction that appear in the first section of this chapter and in other published scholarship by Welch. I argue that Welch had an insightful, but ultimately limited view of building and reconstruction in modern Chinese Buddhism, limited not only by the scarcity of resources available to him at the time, but also by his basic approach to the study of China. In looking at Buddhist building and reconstruction in modern China, Welch sought to paint a more accurate picture of Buddhist activity and enthusiasm, but in doing so revealed some of his deeply-seated assumptions about the nature of Chinese Buddhism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-219
JournalStudies in Chinese Religions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017


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