Junbin Tan's research interests lie at the intersection of studies of religious affects, political subjectivities, temporality, and generational life. His dissertation Moving Gods, Moving Times: Cosmological Anxieties at Taiwan’s Border with China is based on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork on Kinmen, once Taiwan’s battlefront against China and now Taiwan’s most frequently used border with China before the pandemic. He examines efforts by the current generation of older adults, including those who lived elsewhere and moved back upon retirement; a ritual economy in decline; and an emergent group of “cultural-historical workers” (wenshi gongzuozhe) attempt to “salvage” ritual customs that they regard as disappearing. He looks into how struggles to maintain communication with gods amidst economic volatility, circular migration, and declining ritual labor at this borderland community, and how these dovetail with efforts of cultural workers to document a dying “Chinese culture.” The attachment that many Kinmenese have for “China,” he proposes, must be examined against temple activities, rituals of documentation, and the affects and temporalities they produce. Junbin Tan was a Taiwan Fellowship grantee in 2021 and is currently Graduate Fellow at the Center of Culture, Society and Religion, Princeton University.
Anthropology Graduate Student