This article explores the hermeneutical challenges to understand religious belonging and religious identity in the East Asian context. In East Asia, religious identities have not always been as exclusively delineated, as is the case in Western models of religious diversity, for example in the so-called World Religions paradigm. Various theoretical frameworks are discussed in religious studies, sociology and anthropology of religion in China and East Asia, to acquire a better understanding of religious belonging. It is observed that two hermeneutical frameworks are used by scholars to discuss religious diversity: a hermeneutics of multiple religions and a hermeneutics of religiosity. The former analyses “religious belonging” as a “belonging to religious traditions”. In the latter, “religious belonging” is understood as transcending particular religious traditions. It is argued that we need to take another look at the philosophical concept of “multiplicity” to understand religious diversity and religious belonging. We can use the Deleuzian concepts of “rhizome” and “assemblage” to describe religious belongings in East Asia specifically and also religion in general. A rhizomatic thinking about religion enables us to reimagine the concept of religious belonging as rhizomatic belonging, and also, as is argued by Haiyan Lee and Mayfair Yang, make it possible to subvert power structures inherent to religion.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited