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Religion and Politics in East Asia


Admission requirements



Clashes of civilizations in East Asia have rapidly escalated in the twenty-first century. The complexity of East Asian political regimes (totalitarian, authoritarian, semi-democratic, and democratic) and religions (Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hindu, and Shinto) has exacerbated the clashes of civilizations. But it has also provided both general lessons and different models of religion-state relations to cope with these clashes. This course will apply theories of nationalism, democracy and religion-state relations to East Asian cases, including China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The central theme of this course is to explore both general lessons and different models of religion-state relations to cope with clashes of civilizations in East Asia. In each case, the instructor will provide a brief political and religious background. Then, individual students (or in groups) will report their analysis of the central theme, followed by general discussion from the classroom.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, the student

  • will have deepend his/her understanding of the relation between politics and religion in East Asia, especially China, taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

  • will have enhanced her/his academic skills, such as reading and analysing the relevant literature as well as primary sources, reporting (in writing and orally) on relevant research topics, and taking part in class discussions.

Mode of instruction

Seminar/lectures and class discussion.

Course Load

5ec = 140 hrs
Contact hrs: 26
Weekly assignments: on average 5hrs/week
Term paper: 50

Assessment method

  1. Weekly reports (50%): Pending on the number of registered students, choose 3-5 weekly topics to do class reports. These reports include a brief summary of the political and religious background, analysis of major issues in religion-state relations, and comments on the central theme of this course.
    1. Final reports (30%): Choose and expand one of the class reports into a research paper about 15 pages. Prior consultation about the paper topic with the instructor is required.
    2. Class participation (20%): All students are expected to contribute to class discussion.

Reading list

Required textbook: Cheng, Tun-jen, and Deborah A. Brown, eds. 2006. Religious Organizations and Democratization: Case Studies from Contemporary Asia. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Available in both paper copy and digital forms from Amazon.

Supplementary readings to be announced.




It is not possible to write your BA-paper in the context of this course


Prof.dr. Cheng-tian Kuo , Distinguished Professor, Political Science Department Professor, Graduate Institute of Religious Studies National Chengchi University Taiwan. IIAS gasthoogleraar