Academic Staff

      David A. Palmer

      DAVID A. PALMER 宗樹人

      PhD in Anthropology of Religion, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Université Paris PSL)
      Associate Professor, HKIHSS and Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong

      Overview

      Dr David A Palmer is an Associate Professor jointly appointed by the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, which he joined in 2008. After completing his Ph.D. at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (School for Advanced Research, Université Paris PSL), he was the Eileen Barker Fellow in Religion and Contemporary Society in the Department of Sociology of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and, from 2004 to 2008, Director of the Hong Kong Centre of the French School of Asian Studies (Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient), located at the Institute for Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

      Palmer’s interdisciplinary research and teaching is situated at the intersection of sociology and anthropology, and is informed by scholarly traditions in history, religious studies and Sinology. He is best known for his award-winning books The Religious Question in Modern China (Joseph Levenson Award of the Association for Asian Studies and PROSE award of the American Publishers’ Association, co-authored with V. Goossaert) and Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China (Francis L.K. Hsu Award of the Society for East Asian Anthropology), both of which have become essential reading for studies on contemporary Chinese society and religion. His latest book Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality (Edward Bruner Prize for the best book in the Anthropology of Tourism by the American Anthropological Association and Oustanding Research Output Award of the HKU Faculty of Social Sciences; co-authored with E. Siegler) was published in 2017 by the University of Chicago Press. He has also published numerous articles, journal issues and edited volumes on Chinese religion, civil society, Daoism, the Bahá’í Faith, and modern and transnational religious movements. His writings have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as Current Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Economy and Society, The Journal of Asian Studies and Modern Asian Studies.

      He leads the “Asian Religious Connections” research cluster at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, where he directs a GRF grant on “Daoism, Ethnic Identity and State Socialism: the Lanten Yao on the China-Vietnam-Laos Borderland” and a CRF grant on “Infrastructures of Faith: Religious Mobilities on the Belt and Road.”

      Contact

      Room 114, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong
      Tel: (852) 3917-5903
      Fax: (852) 2559-6143
      Email: palmer19@hku.hk

      Selected Publications

      Books

      The Civil Sphere in East Asia

      2019 The Civil Sphere in East Asia (co-edited with Jeffrey Alexander, Agnes Ku and Sunwoong Park), Cambridge University Press, 320 pages.

      Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality

      2017 Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality (co-authored with Elijah Siegler), University of Chicago Press, 326 pages.

      宗樹人、夏龍、魏克利主編,中國人的宗教生活,香港大學出版社,2014。

      2014 Zhongguoren de zongjiao shenghuo (中國人的宗教生活), HKU Press. [Chinese edition of Chinese Religious Life]

      Daoism in the Twentieth Century: Between Eternity and Modernity

      2012 Daoism in the Twentieth Century: Between Eternity and Modernity (co-edited with Liu Xun), University of California Press, 404 pages.

      Chinese Religious Life

      2012 Chinese Religious Life (co-edited with Glenn Shive and Philip Wickeri), Oxford University Press, 296 pages.

      The Religious Question in Modern China

      2011 The Religious Question in Modern China (co-authored with Vincent Goossaert), University of Chicago Press, 464 pages.

      2007 Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China, Columbia University Press, 320 pages.

      2005 La fièvre du “Qigong” Guérison, religion et politique en Chine, 1949-1999, Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 512 pages. [French edition of Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China]

      Selected journal articles

      Guanyin’s Limbo: Icons as Demi-Persons and Dividual Objects” (with Chip Colwell and Martin Tse). American Anthropologist. Published online first, 23 Aug. 2019.

      “Neo-Socialist Governmentality: Managing Freedom in the Peoples’ Republic of China (with Fabian Winiger). Economy and Society, forthcoming.

      “Ethics of the Heart: Moral Breakdown and the Aporia of Chinese Volunteers” (with Rundong Ning). Current Anthropology, forthcoming.

      “The Cosmopolitan Moment in Colonial Modernity: The Bahá’í Faith, Spiritual Networks and Universalist Movements in early Twentieth Century China” (with Zhaoyuan Wan). Modern Asian Studies, forthcoming.

      Spirituality, Transcendence, and the Circulatory History of Modern Asian Religion” (Review Essay). Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 78:1 (2018), pp. 171-180.

      “Occulting the Dao: Daoist Inner Alchemy, French Spiritism and Vietnamese Colonial Modernity in Caodai Translingual Practice” (with Jeremy Jammes). Journal of Asian Studies 77:2 (2018), 405-428.

      Transnational Sacralizations: When Daoist Monks Meet Spiritual Tourists.Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 79: 2 (2014), 169-192.

       “From ‘Congregations’ to ‘Small Group Community Building’: Localizing the Bahá’í Faith in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China.Chinese Sociological Review 45: 2 (2013), 78-98.

      Gift and Market in the Chinese Religious Economy”. Religion 41:4 (2011): 1-26.

      Chinese Redemptive Societies and Salvationist Religion: Historical Phenomenon or Sociological Category? Journal of Chinese Theatre, Ritual and Folklore / Minsu Quyi 172 (2011), pp. 21-72.

      China’s Religious Danwei: Institutionalizing Religion in the Peoples’ Republic.China Perspectives 2009/4, pp. 17-31.

      Modernity and Millenialism in China: Qigong and the Birth of Falun Gong”, Asian Anthropology 2 (2003), pp. 79-110.

      Selected book chapters

      Three Moral Codes and Micro-Civil Spheres in China”, in Jeffrey Alexander, David A. Palmer, Agnes Ku and Sunwoong Park (eds.), The Civil Sphere in East Asia. Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 126-147.

      “The Resurrection of Lei Feng: Rebuilding the Chinese Party-State’s Infrastructure of Volunteer Mobilization” (with Rundong Ning), in Elizabeth Perry, Gzegorz Eckiert and Xiaojun Yan eds., Ruling by Other Means: State-Mobilized Social Movements. Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press.

      Secularization, Sacralization and Subject Formation in Modern China” (with Fabian Winiger), in Peter van der Veer and Kenneth Dean (eds.), A Secular Age in Asia? Palgrave MacMillan, 2018, pp. 83-105.

      “Religion, Spiritual Principles and Civil Society”, in Ben Schewel and Geoff Cameron eds., Religion and Public Discourse in an Age of Transition: Reflections on Baha’i Practice and Thought. Guelph, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018.

      Is Chinese (Lack of) Religion Exceptional?”, In Ryan Hornbeck and Justin Barrett, eds. Homo Religiosus and the Dragon: Cognitive Studies of Religion in China. Springer Academic Publishers, 2017. 

      Daoism and Human Rights: Integrating the Incommensurable”, in Joseph Tham, Kai Man Kwang & Alberto Garcia (eds.), Religious Perspectives on Bioethics and Human Rights. Springer Academic Publishers, 2017, pp. 139-144. DOI: 978-3-319-58431-7_12

      Religiosity and Social Movements in China: Divisions and Multiplications”, in Gilles Guiheux & K. E. Kuah-Pearce (eds.), Social Movements in China and Hong Kong: The Expansion of Protest Space.ICAS/Amsterdam University Press, 2009, pp. 257-282.

      Heretical Doctrines, Reactionary Secret Societies, Evil Cults: Labelling Heterodoxy in 20th Century China”, in Mayfair Yang (ed.), Chinese Religiosities: the Vicissitudes of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, pp. 113-134.

      Research Projects

      Infrastructures of Faith: Religious Mobilities on the Belt and Road (BRINFAITH). Project Coordinator, Hong Kong Collaborative Research Fund (CRF), 2019 – 2022.

      Daoism, Ethnic Identity and State Socialism: the Lanten Yao on the China-Vietnam-Laos Borderland (YAODAO). PI, Hong Kong General Research Fund (GRF), 2018 – 2021.

      Daoist Ritual, Local Society and the State: Ethnography, Text and Theory. PI, Hong Kong Humanities and Social Sciences Prestigious Fellowship Scheme (HSSPFS), 2019.

      Moral Autonomy under Neo-Socialism. Joint research and publications in preparation derived from GRF project “Volunteering in China: Moral Discourses and Social Spaces” (PI, 2010 – 2013), and postgraduate student research on Chinese volunteers, NGOs and spiritual movements conducted by Anna Iskra, Liu Qing, Liu Zhao, Ning Rundong, Peng Qiaoyang and Fabian Winiger.

      Knowledge Exchange Projects

      A Values-Based Evaluation Framework for Humanitarian Education Programmes. Co-PI with Marie Harder (HKU Faculty of Social Sciences ExCEL3, Fudan University, Brighton University and a major social service agency in Hong Kong), 2017 – 2020.

      Student Supervision

      Ning Rundong, MPhil graduate, HKIHSS, 2015

      Fabian Winiger, PhD graduate, HKIHSS, 2018

      Anna Iskra, PhD student, HKIHSS, 2015 –

      Rao Yichen, PhD student, HKIHSS, 2018 –

      Fung Lok Hang, MPhil student, HKIHSS, 2018 –

      Qiu Zichan, MPhil student, HKIHSS, 2018 –