Religion in Modern Chinese Politics -- a Historical and Global Perspective

Activity: Talk or presentationProfessional

Ya-pei Kuo - Invited speaker

This lecture series puts forward two inter-related theses about the conception of religion in modern China. (1) Since the early 20th century, political thinking about religion has been characterised by a deep sense of ambivalence. On the one hand, secularism dominated the imagination of modernity and compelled revolutionary parties, such as the Chinese Communist Party, to take an atheistic stance. On the other hand, many revolutionaries viewed religion as the archetype of political mobilisation, and a source of organisational inspiration. (2) This ambivalence towards religion cannot be explained without considering its global roots. As a neologism, the Chinese word of "religion," zongjiao, was a late nineteenth-century invention for denoting the Western concept, and a byproduct of the colonial encounter between China and the Christian powers. As such, it was from the very beginning an object of both loath and emulation. Later, the loath was enhanced by social scientific theories of secularisation and the emulation intensified after Christianity was reconstructed into a "spirit." The ambivalence towards religion, in this light, continued to be intertwined with the developments of Christianity's imagery around the globe.

External organisation (Research Institute)

NameCenter of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (CeASHum), University of Trento, Italy

View graph of relations

Related Publications
  1. Two Conceptions of Religion in Modern China: Chen Duxiu on the Eve of the Anti-Religion/Anti-Christian Movement

    Kuo, Y., 5-Aug-2019, (Accepted/In press) Critical Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions II: Intellectual History of Key Concepts. Travagnin, S. & Scot, G. (eds.). De Gruyter

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

View all (1) »

ID: 96968765