Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

Cheu Hock-Tong

Personal Data

Research Field: Anthropology;modernization & religion,new religious movement
Office: Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, Univ. Kebangsaan Malaysia
Country: Singapore


(Oct 1, 1993)

Dr. CHEU Hock-Tong was a late starter in academia. On completing his secondary school education in 1959, he worked for ten years before continuing his studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) under a Malaysian government bursary. He graduated with a First Class Honours B.A. degree in Anthropology and Sociology in 1974.

Upon graduation, CHEU was appointed Tutor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of the same university. In the fall of the same year, he received a Malaysian government scholarship to enter a Ph.D. program at Cornell University. Upon admission to the doctoral candidacy--having received an M.A. degree in Anthropology--in 1976, he returned to teach and do fieldwork on the Nine Emperor Gods spirit-medium cult in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. In 1977 he received an award from the National Unity Board of Malaysia to do research on "Religion, Ethnic Identity and National Integration," which he completed in 1978.

In fall of 1979 CHEU returned to Cornell to write up his doctoral dissertation, "An Analysis of the Nine Emperor Gods Spirit-Medium Cult in Malaysia," which he submitted in fall, 1981. After returning to Malaysia, CHEU began research on the Datuk Kong Spirit Cult in peninsular Malaysia. In 1984 the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, offered him a three-month research fellowship to enable him to revise his dissertation for publication. The abridged version of the dissertation, entitled The Nine Emperor Gods: A Study of Chinese Spirit-Medium Cults, was published in 1988 by Times Books International, Singapore, under the auspices of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

In 1987 CHEU received the Fulbright International Exchange Scholars Fellowship, and was Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he did a year of research on

Chinese Festivals. While in Michigan, he solicited papers from researchers on Chinese religion with the aim of editing and publishing them in two volumes (one on ethnographic studies and another on textual studies) as readers for Malaysian students of Chinese religion. The response was so overwhelming that he has received enough papers for five volumes. The first volume, Chinese Religious Beliefs and Practices in Southeast Asia is to be published by Pelanduk Publications this year. The remaining volumes will be published in stages in coming years.

Currently, CHEU is doing research on "Values and Socioeconomic Development among the Chinese in Jementah, Johore" (part of a team project entitled "Eight Malaysian Families: The Consequences of Socioeconomic Development") and "The Development of the Datuk Kong Spirit Cult in Sabah," funded by the Toyota Foundation and the National University of Malaysia, respectively. Upon completing these projects, CHEU plans to conduct research on religious/spiritual values and environmental protection.

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Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:37:32

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