Out of space: christian deterritorialization and space production in yunnan

Gideon Elazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article is an attempt to examine an apparent contradiction in state policy and rhetoric in China regarding Protestant Christianity. According to Chinese law, churches not affiliated with the officially sanctioned Three Self Patriotic Movement are formally illegal. Indeed, churches who fail to comply with regulations are periodically demolished. At the same time, the large house church movement is often tolerated, particularly in peripheral regions like Yunnan. This article explains these contradictory policies through an analysis of the spatial practices employed by Evangelical Christians in Yunnan. Based on Henri Lefebvre’s theory of space production, I discuss contemporary Evangelical attitudes toward sacred space and the physical construction of churches, arguing that Evangelical religiosity is focused on individuals and abstract faith and remains uninterested and often hostile to physical expressions of holiness. Thus, the production of space is resigned to the state and its modernization project resulting in relative tolerance on the side of local authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalAsian Ethnology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Nanzan University Anthropological Institute.


  • Evangelical christianity
  • House church movement
  • Sanjiang church
  • Space production
  • Spiritual geography


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