Call for Proposals: Chinese Christianities Unit - American Academy of Religion

Call for Proposals

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:
Disciplinary perspectives:
● How do the changing relationships between Christianity and the Chinese state affect studies of mainland Chinese Christianities? How do increased restrictions on historical archives and access to lived religious communities change the nature of historical and social scientific studies?
● What theological distinctives can be found amongst Chinese Christianities? What theological misconceptions have arisen due to the orientalization of Chinese Christianities?
● Based on prior “first order” microstudies of global Chinese Christianities, what “second order” theorizations can be made about Chinese Christianities?
Confessional perspectives:
● While Chinese Protestants are often described as “post-denominational” (in mainland China) or “independent” (in North America and in the UK), in what ways are these confessional labels irrelevant or limiting?
● What has caused the field of Chinese Christianities to be over-preoccupied with forms of Protestantism as opposed to other major branches of Christianity?
● What divergences and convergences can be found between Chinese Protestants versus Chinese Catholics and Chinese Orthodox? What about when compared to “fringe” or “heterodox” groups?
Regional perspectives:
● In what ways do Chinese Christianities differ when comparing expressions across various parts of “Greater China”—mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan?
● How have different waves of migration shaped global forms of Chinese Christianities?
● How do transregional and transnational networks (e.g. Lausanne, CCOWE, FABC) offer bridges and barriers to understanding Chinese Christianities?
● How do global Chinese Christianities problematize Western public-private dichotomies?

Statement of Purpose

This Unit 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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members until after final acceptance/rejection.

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