2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
- Organised by Tingjian Cai
- André Laliberté, Chair
- André Laliberté, “Religious Change in China: The Impact of Welfare Regime Retrenchment and Expansion”
- Juliette Duléry, “’Go Ye into All the World, and Preach the Gospel to Every Creature’: The Politics of Evangelical Protestantism in the Chinese Context of State Surveillance”
- Kaige Wang, “Confucianism in Modern China’s State-Building”
- Tingjian Cai, “Four Scenarios for the Future of Political-Religious Interaction”
The Chinese modernisation and secularisation, i.e. the introduction of new terms like “religion” and new understandings on state-building, has not led to the full elimination of its tradition, but rather to a mixture of Chinese tradition and modern (socialist) state construction, the result of which could be clearly observed in the political-religious field, as religious revival causes intensified political-religious interactions. The purpose of this panel is to analyse the political-religious relationship in China against the background of the globalized trend of religious revival, according to, but not limited to, a variety of logic and dichotomies, such as the “state-lead vs. religion-follow”, orthodoxy-heterodoxy, religion-superstition, and the strengthening of the socialist-corporatist regulatory structure of the Chinese state. Different kinds of interactions between the state and certain religions e.g. Protestantism, as well as quasi-religious phenomena e.g. Confucianism, will be illustrated on the panel. On this basis, the functional logic of the current (problematic) political-religious interactions will be analysed e.g. from the perspective of relations among welfare state, economic development and religious changes and, the possible scenarios for the future political-religious interactions in China will be further presented. The panel will be organised by Cai Tingjian (University of Munich). The chair will be held by Prof. André Laliberté (University of Ottawa), and panellists are Prof. André Laliberté (University of Ottawa), Juliette Duléry (University Paris-Diderot), Wang Kaige (College of Chinese Culture), and Cai Tingjian (University of Munich).
André Laliberté, “Religious Change in China: The Impact of Welfare Regime Retrenchment and Expansion”
Theories of Chinese modernisation and secularisation discussing the religious question remain silent on one of the main drivers of secularisation and religious change observed in Western and post-colonial changes: the changes in religiosity related to the expansion and/or retrenchment of the welfare state. The enormous transformation experienced by China, from the encompassing welfare regime provided by the People’s Commune to the social dislocation experienced since the period of reform and opening, as the Communist Party social policies navigate behind the developmental and productivist approaches of the residual-liberal and corporatist-conservative, have coincided with significant religious change. While welfare state theories have explored how religious landscapes have shaped welfare regimes in Western societies, or how welfare insecurity regimes have influenced the growth of religions, such issue remains understudied in China. The paper argues that advances in the study of religion and in the study of welfare regimes in contemporary East Asian societies should help fill the gap. The paper calls for a theory that incorporates findings from the political economy of welfare regimes and the regulation of religious affairs in East Asia, grounded in general theories about the relationship between social insecurity and religiosity. The provisional conclusion of this theory-building effort is that it sheds light on the Communist Party’s changes of approach to religion in the delivery of social services. It suggests that in conditions of welfare retrenchment and increasing welfare insecurity caused by migration, a skewed sex ratio, and a rapidly ageing of the population, have accompanied the growth in religiosity.
Juliette Duléry, “’Go Ye into All the World, and Preach the Gospel to Every Creature’: The Politics of Evangelical Protestantism in the Chinese Context of State Surveillance”
The tensions between Protestant groups and the Chinese Party-State have been the object of many studies, which generally portray these actors as fundamentally opposed. Yet, their relationship is far from being monolithic, due to the existence of a galaxy of Protestant groups—from registered to underground congregations, and including para-churches groups and foreign-led communities. How do evangelical groups, usually characterised by their proselyte ambitions, propagate their faith in a context of religious surveillance? This study is based on participant observations in Protestant organisations in China and on 80 interviews of Protestant actors led in Beijing, Changsha, and Shenzhen. I argue that the interactions between Protestant groups and the State are based on tacit rules of (in)visibility. The official Chinese nationalist rhetoric emphasizes traditional values of Confucianism and seeks to limit the spread of religious “others”, namely Islam and Christianity. In this context, official but also unregistered Protestant groups usually make visible their allegiance to the State, and may even adhere strongly to those values. This does not mean that they are entirely dominated by the State, but rather that they pursue their sensitive activities through private channels. As a consequence of this ambiguousness, they manage to survive in an adverse context, but at the cost of some core attributes of evangelical Protestantism—such as visibility. By focusing on the Chinese case, this research aims to contribute to the knowledge of Chinese contemporary dynamics, but also to the broader discussion on the role of religion in the development of national identities.
Kaige Wang, “Confucianism in Modern China’s State-Building“
It has been widely accepted that Confucianism is both a religion and a philosophy, and also recognised as semi-religion and semi-philosophy. Different from the Western institutional religion, Confucianism can be summarised as a kind of diffused religion proposed by Yang Qingkun, as it runs through all aspects of traditional China from national ideology, spiritual temperament, political system, economic, and social thoughts to personal cultivation. Although Confucianism has been repeatedly criticised in modern China, in fact, the core logic of modern state-building follows the Confucian ideas to some extent. Pro. Tu Weiming once discussed the important role of Confucianism (emphasizing hierarchical authority, thrift and savings, education, and collectivism) on the industrialization of East Asia. It can also be found that after China’s reform and opening up, the southeast coastal areas where the countryside enterprises are the most developed are areas which have the most developed Confucianism and clan culture. China’s politics also advocates meritocracy rather than Western election democracy, etc.
In modern China, Confucian values must be implemented in a series of institutional constructions such as family, social groups, political facilities, economic systems, etc., to realise the creative transformation of traditional values, because institutions are the carriers of ideas. Let the value of Confucianism participate in the construction of the present humanistic spirit and secular ethics, to deal with the crisis and predicament caused by modern individualistic ethics, and let Confucianism truly play the role of a modern “civil religion”.
Tingjian Cai, “Four Scenarios for the Future of Political-Religious Interaction”
The Chinese modernisation and secularisation, i.e. the introduction of new terms like “religion” and new understandings on state-building, has not led to the full elimination of its tradition, but rather to a mixture of Chinese tradition and modern (socialist) state construction, the result of which could be clearly observed in the political-religious field, as religious revival causes intensified political-religious interactions. As the current political-religious interactions become more and more problematic regarding the contradictions between the rapid religious revival and political regulations, as well as between the people’s need to find a replacement for the “empty void” in the moral-spiritual sphere after Maoism and the state’s attempt to take this building of new religious-ideological agent under control, the question is raised about in which direction the political-religious interactions in China will proceed. This paper will present some scenarios for the future political-religious interactions: would China turn into a “neo-imperial sacral hegemony” which harbours great risks, but yet could settle political-social issues around a “nationalist nucleus”? Would it be a “gentle” path to recreate a Confucian framework of political-religious field, with a reactivated Confucianism subordinating and integrating religions? Less likely, but not impossible, would it be the implementation of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom against any political loyalty or interventions? Or could it be a Chinese special path which amalgamates liberty and the state’s desire for political-social order?
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