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:
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?”
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”