Technologies of Salvation: (Re)locating Chinese Buddhism in the Digital Age

Francesca Tarocco

Abstract


The study of the communicative fabric of the social media life of elite clerics sheds light on the role that digital technology plays in the processes of re-articulation of their relationship with practitioners. Examining the spheres of pious self-making and social imaginary that are opened up by Buddhist technoculture, this article suggests that deep-rooted attitudes towards the circulation of knowledge and charisma inform the current recuperation of monastic ideals and the production of digital “dharma treasures” (fabao 法宝). These are key to establishing and maintaining local, trans-regional, and international networks of online and offline followers. The hyperspace-biased conversations within and around urban Buddhism represent a development of significance and complexity. Buddhist lives, I argue, are produced and mediated by the ever-expanding incidence of clerical blogging and engagement with the smartphone-based social media platform WeChat (weixin 微信).

Keywords


Chinese Buddhism; Digital Buddhism; Social media

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Copyright (c) 2017 Francesca Tarocco

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