Spring 2008

Religion and Society in Greater China

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-50  |  History, as HIST-58


Jerry P. Dennerline (Section 01)


(AS) (Also Asian 50.) This course will focus on religious beliefs and practices in Chinese communities, past and present, in China and abroad. The goal is to develop comparative perspectives on the varieties of religious activity in Chinese societies by studying them in local and global contexts. Among the issues to be considered are the following: (1) Is there such a thing as "Chinese religion" as distinct from the specific rites and doctrines of Buddhism or Taoism? (2) What has been the role of states in shaping religion in China? What have been the roles of Confucianism, Nationalism, and Communism? (3) How are the activities of local cults related to particular social or political interests? (4) How are the beliefs and practices of household religion and ancestor worship compatible with or contradictory to those of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam? (5) How do current religious developments in Chinese communities support or oppose what political analysts call "civil society"? Reading, discussion, and individual research projects. Two class meetings per week. Second semester. Professor Dennerline.