Transitions in AAR Chinese Christianities

This week, I submit the post-AAR (American Academy of Religion) conference report for the Chinese Christianities Unit, marking my final task as co-chair of the group. I step down not because I am less interested in the group or the field, but mainly due to AAR policies around leadership rotation. While I will undoubtedly pop my head into sessions as they progress, my formal relationship with the group I co-founded in 2014 has come to an end. It has been journey and, over the course of the 7+ years, I have learned quite a bit.

I started the group because of the absence of such a venue in the premier learned society in the study of religion. I had been attending AAR for a few years and always found it hard to find colleagues researching what I thought was a really important academic field: Chinese Christianity. I remember presenting a paper in one AAR and, after the session ended, one audience member asked, “So, are Chinese now able to produce their own theology?” Um… were you here when I delivered my 20min presentation on academic theological discourse in China? I remember leaving that session thinking I needed to find others researching Chinese Christianity.

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AAR 2021: Chinese Christianities Unit

We are glad to have another year of the AAR Chinese Christianities Unit, albeit running in an online format. While details are available in the online program book, I have also included them here.

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AAR 2020: Chinese Christianities Unit

This is the inaugural year of our AAR program unit with a “Unit” status, as opposed to its more temporary “Seminar” status. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing public health situation, we are glad to be able to hold our two sessions in AAR in an online format. While details are available in the online program book, I have also included it here.

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Chinese Christianities: Assignment for the 2020s

At the end of 2019, the AAR Chinese Christianities Seminar had concluded its fifth and final year under the “seminar” status. We needed to therefore submit a proposal if we wanted to continue in the future as a “unit.” We were successful (yay!), and the Chinese Christianities Unit now has a 2020 CfP. (You can follow us on Facebook too!) In the process of writing our proposal, we had to make an intellectual argument as to why such a group was needed. Here is an excerpt of that text, jointly produced by our steering group.

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AAR 2020: Chinese Christianities Unit – Call for Papers

American Academy of Religion, 2020 Meeting
Chinese Christianities Unit
Deadline for proposals: 2 March 2020

Half a century ago, John Fairbank offered an “Assignment for the ‘70s,” arguing for scholars to take into consideration the encounter between American missionaries and Chinese Christians. Mindful of the growth in the academic field of Chinese Christianities, especially the rapid production of new studies in the last decade, this inaugural year of the Chinese Christianities Unit offers us a new challenge—an “Assignment for the 2020s,” which suggests the need to slow down and reconsider the field of Chinese Christianities, from multiple disciplinary, confessional, and regional perspectives. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:

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