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Call for papers for planned Conference on Christianity and Other Religions in China

Conference Statement

Title:  International Symposium on “Mutual Perceptions/Interactions between Christianity and Other Religions in China”
Time:  April 3-5 (Fri. to Sun.), 2020
Venue:  University of Hawaii at Manoa
Co-organizer:  Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and Taiwan Society of Church History

Religious studies in the context of China has been quite developed in modern times. Yet most of academic works have focused on a one-religion approach without paying enough attention to the interactions or competitions between two or several religions. China has been a large country with a large number of native and imported religions. When we take a close look at historical sources, it is not difficult to find out there have been various kinds of interactions between religions as they observe, criticize, compete, and cooperate each other. Studying the interactions between religions will definitely help us understand better Chinese society and the religions within it.
The lack of studies on mutual interactions in religions is especially true in the case of Christianity and other religions in China. There are at least three factors that caused this trend. First, Christianity is a monotheistic religion often ignores or keeps distance from other religions. Second, there have been a very large number of Christian denominations and Catholic orders. The missionaries sent by them might have different understanding of China and might not share the same attitude toward other religions. Third, important decrees might cause some impact on academic fields. For example, the Vatican II in the 1960s was an epoch-making decision in terms of promotion of religious dialogue and harmony between Catholicism and other religions. It seems few scholars deem it necessary to explore what really happened in Catholicism and other religions before the Vatican II.
Looking from another angle, religious studies are also under the influence of modern theories. For example, Professor Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University raised the hypothesis of the clashes of civilizations that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. This hypothesis immediately attracts the attention of many people and is applied to the conflicts in the Middle East. Yet whether or not the arrival of Christianity to China implies or leads to conflict and antagonism needs further examination.
Because of the importance and significance of this topic, a conference has been planned since almost two years ago. Taiwan Society of Church History and the Center for Chinese Studies of University of Hawaii-Manoa all agree that the time is ripe for an international conference on “Mutual Perceptions/Interactions between Christianity and Other Religions in China” to be held in Hawaii on April 3-5, 2020.
Distinguished scholars from Asia, Europe and America will be invited to attend this conference at which they will present scholarly papers related to this topic. The papers presented will later be collected and published in one or two conference volumes. In this way it is believed that a deeper understanding of the theoretical concerns involved in the research process and the larger history of Christian-other (non-Christian) religions in China will be usefully illuminated.
We will adopt a broad definition of the terms involved in this symposium. For example, Christianity include Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy (Church of the East), independent churches, and native denominations. As for other religions, they include all native religions, other imported religions, and folk religions. Mutual perceptions and interactions might denote observation, perception, the actions they plan or adopt, and actual interactions, such as lawsuits, confrontations, competitions, cooperation, and conversion plans and strategies.
We welcome various sources for the papers and discussion. The material for the research might be religious classics, teachings, religious courses of certain seminary, missionary observation and reports, their journals and diaries. They can also be based on official documents and journalists’ writings.

A. We plan to hold a 3-day conference with 25 to 30 papers.
B. We want to promote contrasts and dialogues between different religions and hope to have one-third of the paper from non-Christian perspectives.
C. The conference will be bilingual — Mandarin and English. We urge those who submit their papers in Chinese to give a long English summary of their papers or give presentations in English.
D. The papers presented will later be collected and published in one or two conference volumes. Therefore, all papers for this conference should be not presented/published before.
E. Participants should be responsible for their travel and hostel expenses. We are happy to report that Center for Chinese Studies of UH-Manoa will help us to get low-cost lodging on campus. What we can promise at the present time is that the conference organizers will offer fine cuisine for our participants during the conference period.
F. Important Dates:
Submission of Abstract and short resume by 03/25/2019
Submission of full paper by 12/31/2019

Should you have any questions pertaining to the conference, please feel free to contact Professor Peter Chen-main Wang (peter31313@gmail.com, National Central University, Taiwan) or Prof. Wensheng Wang (wensheng@hawaii.edu, University of Hawaii, Manoa) of the organizing committee of the symposium.

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