AAR 2019: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers

American Academy of Religion, 2019 Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar CfP
Deadline for proposals: 4 March 2019

This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in mainland China today, and arguably the religion of choice for a growing number of diasporic Chinese. “Chinese” is an expansive term, including mainland China proper as well as a large, linguistically, and culturally diverse diaspora, and encompassing more than a fifth of the world’s population; the Han Chinese people are sometimes described as the world’s largest ethnic group. Hence, with the increasing critical mass of Chinese Christians, there has likewise been a growing academic interest in various instantiations of Chinese Christianities, as understood across geographies (e.g., mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, North America, etc.) and groupings (e.g., house and state-sanctioned churches, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc.). Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of regional, social, religious, etc. boundaries. Over the course of these five years, this seminar will offer a unique opportunity for scholars to engage and to debate the implications of the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities with regards to the boundaries they engage.

In the first four years of this program unit, the sessions have explored how the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of boundaries: (1) regional, (2) social, (3) religious, and (4) ecclesiological. In this fifth and final year, the program unit would like to explore the broader conceptualization of the field, itself. Namely, why is it important to speak about Chinese Christianities? Papers can engage micro- or macro-case studies, focus on theoretical concerns, or challenge methodological presuppositions. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:

  • What is “Chinese” (religiously, ethnically, culturally, politically, etc.) and what is “Christian” (orthodoxy, orthopraxy, socially, structurally, ritually, etc.) about Chinese Christianities? What is the role of “non-Chinese” agents in the formation of Chinese Christianities? Should we be speaking of Chinese Christianities (in the plural) or Chinese Christianity (in the singular)? How is this a different discourse from “Chinese religion” or “World Christianity/ies”?
  • Much of the field of Chinese Christianities is focused on the past century in mainland China, especially within Protestantism. What are the benefits and challenges of looking at the much longer history since the 7th century, the diversity in denominational/ecclesial expression, or the spread through Asia (East and Southeast) and the West (Europe and America)? We especially welcome proposals that take a fresh look at the historical or contemporary discussions of the Church of the East in China (Jingjiao 景教), Chinese Catholicism, and Chinese Orthodoxy within China or the global Chinese diaspora.
  • In 2019, what can we consider in terms of the Chinese Bible on the centennial of the Chinese Union Version? What has been the significance of the Chinese Union Version and how does it compare to other translation efforts of the Bible into the Chinese languages (e.g., Wenli/Hokkien/Hakka/Cantonese versions, Catholic and Orthodox translations, and ongoing attempts at producing an ecumenical standard)? How has the Chinese Bible assisted or hindered the transmission of the Christian message, the place of inculturation, the role of song and orality, and the relationship between Chinese Christianities with other Chinese religions?

For further details, see the AAR website.