April 15, 2009
Understanding Contemporary Religious Pluralism in China
The religious landscape in China has unique features that are poorly understood outside the country. While Buddhism, Christianity, and other "World Relgions" are present in the country, China is also home to a rich array of traditional religious practices. Contemporary social forms of Chinese religions fall into four basic types, each with complex historical roots: Confucclesia (the Confucian Assemby), Forest (a space for certain Buddhist and Daoist practices), Jianghu (the "gray" public sphere, marked by fluid religious activities), and Sect (newly established religious groups). In this talk, Georgetown's Liyong Dai examined the characteristics of each type of religious activity, their interconnectedness in today's China, and the relevance of the typology for understanding religion in other modern, pluralist societies.
Liyong Dai, an expert on traditional Chinese religions, was the Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs from 2007 to 2009. His research centered on modernity and religion, religious pluralism, and comparative religions between Christianity and Chinese Religions. Dai is the author of Modernity and Chinese Religions (Chinese Social Science Press, 2008). He is currently completing a manuscript on the social forms of Chinese religions and A Confucclesia-Forest-JiangHu-Sect typology and its pluralist implication. Dai received his B.A. in Politics from Jiang Han University in 1989, an M.A. in Philosophy from Wuhan University in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Renmin University of China in 2006. Dai’s interest in Religious Studies came from his personal “pilgrimage.”