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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Chinese Religions in Contemporary Society: methods and issues

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Dates: 23 November - 4 December 2015

Venue: Centre for Chinese Studies,Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Lecturer: Dr Fang-Long Shih(London School of Economics, University of London)

This course is an introduction to the study of Chinese religions, and consists of three parts: methods, aspects, and issues. Taiwan will be the main case study. The lectures will begin with an overview of the problems of understanding and writing Chinese religions in general, and in Taiwan in particular. Having reviewed the problems, we will then look at methods, considering three significant approaches: (1) phenomenology of religion; (2) sociology of religion; and (3) anthropology of religion, with each related to the study of Chinese religions.

Having understood these approaches, we will then turn to particular aspects of Chinese religions, in particular considering three distinctive dimensions: (1) ‘gods, ancestors, and ghosts’; (2) ‘women, family, and kinship’; and (3) ‘death, ritual, and afterlife’. We will then further move on to discuss three significant issues in the contemporary Chinese society relating to religion: (1) ‘religion and modernity’; (2) ‘religion and democracy’; and (3) ‘religion and globalisation’.

Throughout this course, Chinese religion will be examined as being embodied in social, economic, and political processes. By applying a range of theoretical approaches to the various aspects of religion and the contemporary issues relating to Chinese religion, the course will be of potential interest to a wide range of students, and will stimulate new interactions between disciplines. This will help to develop new spaces for dialogue and understanding of Chinese religious ideas and practices.

Course Outline

Lecture 1: The Problems of Understanding Chinese Religion
Lecture 2: Phenomenological Approaches to the Religions of China
Lecture 3: Sociological Approaches to Chinese Religions
Lecture 4: Anthropological Approaches to Chinese Religious Culture
Lecture 5: Death, Ritual, and the Afterlife in Chinese Religious Culture
Lecture 6: Family, Gender, and Kinship in Chinese Religious Culture
Lecture 7: Gods, Ancestors, and Ghosts in Chinese Religious Culture
Lecture 8: Religion and Modernity in Contemporary Chinese Society
Lecture 9: Religion and Democracy in Contemporary Chinese Society
Lecture 10: Religion and Globalization in Contemporary Chinese Society