Globe with the Asian continent in focus


José Casanova and Peter Phan Publish New Volume on Asian Pacific Catholicism and Globalization

By: Siobhan Cooney

January 10, 2024

A new Georgetown University Press volume edited by Berkley Center Senior Fellow José Casanova and Faculty Fellow Peter Phan, Asian Pacific Catholicism and Globalization: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges (2023), draws upon work from the Berkley Center’s project on Catholicism and Globalization. This multiyear project serves to shed new light on the global transformation of Catholicism from the early modern era to the present and on the different dynamics of globalization when viewed through the prism of the Church and its historical development in the Asia Pacific region.

The initial focus on Asian-Pacific Catholicism and globalization involved three workshops—at Australian Catholic University (May 2016), Melbourne; Georgetown University (November 2016); and Ateneo de Manila University (March 2017)—that brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars, ultimately culminating in a capstone conference at Australian Catholic University (June 2017) and now this edited volume.

Casanova and Phan identify three distinct phases in the development of Catholicism in Asia and Oceania, approaching the historical processes of globalization not as structural agencies or causal forces, but rather as the historical contexts that condition possibilities for human action and reaction in the world.

“This approach, the first to be adopted in the history of Catholicism in these two continents, provides a unifying vision of an extremely diverse ecclesial reality,” says Phan, “and at the same time provides a much-needed corrective to the widely disseminated conception of globalization as intrinsically connected with Western imperialism and neo-liberal market economy.”

The book’s contributors represent an interdisciplinary group of experts—theologians, historians, and social scientists—addressing a range of countries in the region, including China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, and Australia.

This compilation, according to Casanova, allows for a deeper examination of “the long formation of Asian Catholicism from the sixteenth century to the present as a complex process of intercultural and interreligious encounters that has contributed to the uniqueness of the highly plural and pluralist field of Asian Pacific Catholicism within a global Catholic Church.”

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