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State of the Field Seminar: Religion in Modern China



This state of the field seminar examines the Chinese experiences of “religion” in the modern era. In addition to introducing the major religious traditions and their transformations since the turn of the twentieth century, it familiarizes students with the principal research questions that scholars have been concerned with as well as their varying approaches to these questions. Course material is organizpred into polemic themes and an array of argumentative positions on a given issue is examined in weekly meetings. Through comparing and
critiquing different styles of scholarship, the course also reflects on how disciplines in social sciences, such as history, sociology, and anthropology, have each made unique contributions to the understanding of religions in modern China.

Topics include:

  • Religion as a category and a modern concept

  • Religious policies under the modernizing regimes

  • Religion and nationalism

  • Religious revival in the post-Mao era

Course objectives

  • general grasp of the histories and practices of Chinese religions

  • reflection on various issues of Chinese modernity through the lens of religion

  • critical engagement with scholarly works on the topic


Wednesday 9:00-11:00

Mode of Instruction:



  • Participation (attendance, presentation, and contribution to discussion)

  • One book review of a monograph selected from a prepared list (1,000 words)

  • One research proposal on a topic selected by the student (3,000 words)


Blackboard will be used for course documents.