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French Catholic theologian and a cultural anthropologist Michel Chambon will discuss intercultural dialogue and conflict between the Middle Kingdom and the West in the 16th century.

The Chinese Rites Controversy 1636 -1742: Potentialities and Risks of Dialogue between China and the West

In 1583, a few Catholic missionaries arrived in China, initiating the most important dialogue of modern history between Europe and China. While people, letters, and books increasingly traveled between the Middle Kingdom and the West, both civilizations found themselves challenged in their own understanding and enactment of politics and religion. Soon, their intellectual dialogue turned into a political controversy that led to many deaths. This lecture revisits key issues that were at the heart of this controversy and broader transformations that shaped the debate. Ultimately, the unfolding of this first major Sino-Western encounter sheds light on the richness and risk of intercultural dialogue and on the importance of China in the creation of modern Western civilization. 

Michel Chambon, Ph.D., is a French Catholic theologian and a cultural anthropologist studying Chinese Christianity. His research explores various denominations evolving across the Chinese world today and focuses on the role of materiality in the making of Chinese Christianity. Since 2003, he has successively served as a pastoral worker for the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, studied local Christian views on ghosts in Taiwan, and conducted long-term ethnographic research in mainland China among official and unofficial, Protestant and Catholic Churches. 

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April 2018
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