Matthias Schumann

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"

Curriculum vitae

I graduated with a MA in Chinese Studies and History from the University of Heidelberg in 2011. In the same year, I joined the Graduate Program of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" in Heidelberg to write a dissertation thesis on spirit-writing in Republican China. From 2014, I worked as the scientific coordinator of the research project "Protecting the Weak" at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, where I studied the intersection between religious and social activism in late 19th and early 20th century China.

In 2017, I joined the Consortium as a research fellow to further pursue my interest in Chinese spirit-writing (fuji 扶乩/ fuluan 扶鸞), which has a history of more than a thousand years and was prominently used for divination and the revelation of religious scriptures. In particular, I am interested in how spirit-writing was reformed and reframed in light of the complex social, political, and cultural changes of the late imperial and Republican period. Many spirit-writing organizations adopted new institutional models and morphed into religious organizations, complete with their own liturgy, scriptures, and a nationwide hierarchical structure. At the same time, they tried to distance themselves from practices such as divination, which were often criticized as "superstitious" in public discourse.

Selected Publications

Books edited

  • (co-edited with Iwo Amelung, Moritz Bälz, Heike Holbig, and Cornelia Storz) Protecting the Weak in East Asia: Framing Mobilisation and Institutionalisation, London: Routledge, 2018.

Book Chapters

  • "Redemptive Societies." In Handbook on Religion in China, edited by Stephan Feuchtwang. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2020.
  • "Science and Spirit-Writing: The Shanghai Lingxuehui 靈學會 and the Changing Fate of Spiritualism in Republican China." In Text and Context in the Modern History of Chinese Religions: Redemptive Societies and Their Sacred Texts, edited by Philip Clart, David Ownby, and Chien-chuan Wang. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2020.
  • "Protecting the Weak or Weeding Out the Unfit? Disaster Relief, Animal Protection, and the Changing Evaluation of Social Darwinism in Japan and China." In Protecting the Weak in East Asia, edited by Amelung, Bälz, Holbig, Schumann, and Storz, pp. 21-51.