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Encountering ModernityChristianity in East Asia and Asian America$
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Albert L. Park and David K. Yoo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839475

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839475.001.0001

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Accidental Pilgrims

Accidental Pilgrims

Modernity, Migration, and Christian Conversion among Contemporary Taiwanese Americans

Chapter:
(p.95) 4 Accidental Pilgrims
Source:
Encountering Modernity
Author(s):

Carolyn Chen

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824839475.003.0004

This chapter examines the development of Christianity among contemporary Taiwanese Americans and relates it to both the large-scale twentieth-century political, economic, and social transformations in East Asia and the individual and communal everyday realities of Taiwanese Americans. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork at a Taiwanese immigrant church and Buddhist temple in Southern California as well as in-depth interviews with Taiwanese immigrant Christians and Buddhists, the chapter shows how the post-World War II modernization of Taiwan set the stage for the large-scale displacement, or migration, of educated Taiwanese to the United States. It argues that postwar modernization displaced a certain type of Taiwanese—nonreligious Taiwanese—and encouraged individual or nuclear migration that created particularly favorable conditions for eventual Christian conversion among Taiwanese immigrants. It contends that Taiwanese immigrants convert to Christianity because it fulfills the need for community and belonging in the United States.

Keywords:   modernization, Christianity, Taiwanese Americans, Taiwan, displacement, migration, United States, Christian conversion, Taiwanese immigrants, community

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