‘The Glocalisation of Christianity in China’ – Call for Papers

Centre for Chinese Studies and Department of Religions and Theology
University of Manchester, 15-16 May 2014
Deadline: 5 January 2014

Christianity came to China four times: with the Nestorians during the Tang dynasty (618-907), the Franciscans during the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the Jesuits during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and with the Protestants ever since the Opium War (1839-42) and during the Republican Era (1911-1949). But four times it seems they disappeared as these dynasties and the Republican regime vanished from the map of China. The study of Christianity in China has flourished in recent year (Richard Madson, Lian Xi, Ryan Dunch, Alvyn Austin, Daniel Bays, to name a few). But the re-emergence and popularity of Christianity in the post-Mao era has raised new questions about the ways in which historians have studied the history of these missions/missionaries. The churches, converts and practices they left behind have resurfaced in the post-Mao era. These missions have not failed as generations of historians have argued. The post-Mao era has provided us with hindsight unavailable to us before. How does this help us to re-examine the history of Christianity in China? The landscape of Christianity in post-Mao China is diverse; it differs enormously not just in terms of denomination and brand but also in terms of practice as some congregate in underground churches, some in old churches built by missionaries and others in new facilities provided by the government. How significant were the foundations laid in the two millennia before? Many Chinese people, both the elite and the ordinary, have embraced or become interested in Christianity. What could this mean for China in the decades to come? We welcome historians/scholars of Christianity and China to join us in a debate that addresses the following questions/issues:

  1. Is there a pattern in the introduction and indigenisation of Christianity in China in the past one thousand four hundred years
  2. Who are the old and new Christians that have emerged and what can they tell us about history, Mao and post-Mao China?
  3. Is the post-Mao emergence of Christianity true indigenisation because it is not missionary-imposed, but home grown and self-driven?
  4. What is the significance of the transition from “Christianity in China” to “Chinese Christianity”?

Inquiries and abstracts of no more than 200 words, plus 5 lines of biographical information, should be sent to Rebecca Frost at rebecca.frost@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk before 5 January 2014. Those accepted to present at the conference will be notified by 31 January 2014. Accommodation and food will be provided during the conference but paper presenters should look for their own funding for travel.

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