The Rise of New Religions in Asia

The Rise of New Religions in Asia
March 19 – 20, 2018

Co-sponsored by BUCSA and the Fairbank Center, Harvard University,
with support from the Taiwan Ministry of Education and the Education Division,
Taipei Economic & Cultural Office, Boston

Religion in Asia

The Workshop will take place at:

121 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215

“The Rise of New Religions in Asia” 

Organized by Robert Weller (BU Dept. of Anthropology)

Very much like the fundamental societal changes (industrialization, urbanization, increased literacy, shifts in values) in early and mid-nineteenth century Europe and the United States, radical changes also came with the post-WWII world order. These deep internal and external changes in the lives of peoples across Asia came with a vast range of new religions that offered orientation in this changed environment. These new religions drew on aspects of existing dominant religions (Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism) and reworked them or – more rarely – created new forms to mobilize disoriented segments of the population. They closely followed the activities of other new religions and adapted their techniques of proselytizing members. Many of these new religious movements in Asia are international in character and involve overseas communities as well as recruiting specific members from other ethnic groups. There has been fascinating scholarship on individual new religious movements specifically in South, Southeast, and East Asia, and some comparative studies have been done. However, movements such as Pentecostalism, Sufism, Wahhabism, or Dalit Buddhism that are directly connected with existing world religions have rarely been included, although it can be argued with reason that they are part of the same process.

The Conference bring together nine scholars working on new religions in Asia for a probing discussion on the underlying dynamics of their rise and development, as well as their role within the societies where they arose and the areas to which they have spread.


Session 1: Japan  (Monday morning, 9:30 – 12:00)

Session 2: South Asia  (Monday afternoon, 2:00 – 4:30)

Session 3: Southeast Asia  (Tuesday morning, 9:30 – 12:00)

Session 4: China and Taiwan  (Tuesday afternoon, 1:30 – 5:00)