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Religion and Modernity in Historical China: Examining Christianity's role through four keywords


If “religion” is essentially a product of modernity, under what circumstances was it introduced to China in the late nineteenth century? What impact did the coming of “religion” have during the period of Chinese nation-building in the early twentieth century? Subsequently, how did revolutionary parties such as the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party coopt the phenomenon into types of political religiosity to further their ideological visions? More importantly, where had Christianity stood in this train of development?

This talk maps the trajectory of this historical development with four keywords—“religion,” “superstition,” “reformation” (ganhua), and “reconstruction” (gaizao), and argues for a religious foundation in the search for modern China often belied by the secularizing claims of the party-states.  

Dr. Jesse Sun is the assistant professor of History of Christianity at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. An alumnus of Calvin and Calvin Seminary, he holds a Ph.D. in World Christianity from Duke University. His dissertation examines the intellectual history of Chinese Protestantism in twentieth-century China. The topics in his teaching range from Chinese films to the Bible, church history, and world religions.

Sponsored by Asian Studies

October 2022
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