AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers


American Academy of Religion, 2018 Annual Meeting
Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2018

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.

Developing the overarching theme of “Chinese Christianities” and building on the first three years, this fourth year of the seminar will focus on various ecclesiological boundaries. We welcome papers in the following or related areas:
Continue reading “AAR 2018: Chinese Christianities Seminar – Call for Papers”

The Lack of a ‘Chinese Exclusion Act’ in the United Kingdom?

Liverpool Chinese Seamen

For the last Yale-Edinburgh conference on the theme ‘Migration, Exile, and Pilgrimage’, I gave a paper on a possible new area of research for myself: British Chinese Christianity. In preparation for the presentation, I was struck by much of the reading I encountered which asserted that widespread hostility against Chinese in Britain has rarely been recorded. One commentator even claimed:1

The reason for this apparent lack of interest in Chinese immigrants would seem to be largely that they have not appeared to pose any sort of minority problem. Their numbers are relatively insignificant, and they do not constitute an economic threat to the workers of the host society, since they seldom compete directly with British labour for jobs. Nor has attention been drawn to them, as it has to ‘dark-skinned’ immigrants, by any serious racial disturbances.

In fact, when compared to the United States, Canada, and Australia, the government in the United Kingdom has never created any form of ‘Chinese Exclusion Act’ Continue reading “The Lack of a ‘Chinese Exclusion Act’ in the United Kingdom?”

Chinese Christianities

When I was doing my PhD, I often described my research as dealing with Chinese Christianity.  Then, when I was pitching my book to a publisher, I was asked to qualify – Chinese American Christianity or Christianity in China?  The latter, of course.  But what I have begin to realise is the ambiguity of the term ‘Chinese Christianity’ makes for a more fruitful discussion of ‘Chinese Christianities’ – in the plural.  We must think about Chinese Christianities across geographies (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, North America, United Kingdom, etc.) and across groupings (Catholic, Protestant house churches, emerging urban churches, migrant worker churches, etc.).

There was this whole debate in the 1980s in China about where the essence of Chineseness comes from.  It couldn’t be Confucianism, per se (even though it is what most Westerners would say about China), because the May Fourth movement and the Cultural Revolution were quite lethal against the school of thought.  But it couldn’t be Communism either (although some would argue it is).  The Confucian scholar Tu Weiming argued that the problem we had was we focused on the geography of contemporary China to understand Chineseness rather than the diaspora – the periphery, he said, was the centre of cultural China.1  Perhaps it is a mixture of contexts that is important. Continue reading “Chinese Christianities”