African Initiative and Inspiration in the East African Revival, 1930-1950

Daewon Moon and his dissertation committee (L-R): Nimi Wariboko, Inus Daneel, Dana Robert, Jack Davis, Daryl Ireland, Bryan Stone

In the 1930s and 1940s, African revivalists in colonial Ugandan and Ruanda-Urundi appropriated Christian beliefs and practices to forge a distinctively African Christian spirituality that precipitated the moral and spiritual transformation of many people in East Africa. Daewon Moon, in his successfully defended dissertation, demonstrated that African revivalists had the support and sympathy of evangelical-minded missionaries, but it was African evangelists, teachers, and hospital workers who fueled the rapid expansion of the movement.

Lay and Ecclesiastical Travelers from Europe to China in the Long 18th Century

By driOctober 15th, 2018in Faculty Associates, People, Publications

In Illusion and Disillusionment: Travel Writing in the Modern Age, Eugenio Menegon opens the edited volume with a chapter on “Desire, Truth, and Propaganda: Lay and Ecclesiastical Travelers from Europe to China in the Long  Eighteenth Century.” The introduction explains: “The letters written by this early modern eighteenth century traveler, the Italian Serafino da San Giovanni Battista (1692-1742) provide a stark contrast to the other travelers and essays in the collection, offering a good starting point for our discussion. Penned as utilitarian documents, these letters were not meant for printed public consumption. The correspondence does not offer lengthy reflections on cultural difference, or the meaning of Serafino’s voyage. However, the letters do include reports on the logistics of travel, and relate the difficulties of early modern travel, just before the onset of modernity in travel writing. The focus on the material reality in Menegon’s essay diverges from the literary representations of voyages included in the rest of the volume, but is also linked to them in its exploration of illusion and disillusionment in missionary travel and activities.”

Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled

A 17th-Century Chinese Christian and His Conflicted Worlds

The Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College will host a presentation of the recently published book Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled (Columbia University Press, 2018), a strikingly original work and a major contribution to East Asian, transnational, and global history, with important implications for historical approaches and methodologies. Dominic Sachsenmaier explores the mid-seventeenth-century world and the worldwide flows of ideas through the lens of a Chinese Christian’s life (Zhu Zongyuan), combining the local, regional, and global. In his book, he argues that particularly a combination of micro- and macro-historical perspectives can help us understand how large power systems impacted religious life on the ground. It can also help us raise new questions about the complex and often contradictory set of foreign and domestic forces that framed the history of Christianity in seventeenth-century China.

Friday, October 5, 2018, 12 – 2 p.m.

Boston College

Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies
Ground level of Simboli Hall
9 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135

A light lunch provided

RSVP iajs@bc.edu

Dominic Sachsenmaier holds a chair professorship in “Modern China with a Special Emphasis on Global Historical Perspectives” at Göttingen University, Germany. He has held faculty positions at Jacobs University Bremen, Duke University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dominic Sachsenmaier is the president of the US-based Toynbee Prize Foundation, and he is an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is also one of the three editors of the book series Columbia Studies in International and Global History (Columbia UP).

Colonialism, Christianity, and Personhood in Africa

“Africans labor under the weight of a crisis of personhood, self-identity, and a split self that is a legacy of Christianity and colonialism,” Nimi Wariboko argues. In his recent publication, “Colonialism, Christianity and Personhood,” which appears in the Blackwell Companion to African History, edited by William H. Worger, Charles Ambler and Nwando Achebe, Wariboko explores the dual nature of African identity, its source in African tradition and Western colonialism and the spread of Christianity. He ends in hopeful expectation that the twin forces within the African self will no longer stand in opposition to one another, but begin to create a new combination.

Beyond Secular Democracy: Religion, Politics, and Modernity

By driSeptember 5th, 2018in Faculty Associates, People, Publications

The presumed relationship between secularism and democracy is precisely that, presumed, argues Jeremy Menchik, CGCM faculty associate, in a recent journal article challenging common convention.

Menchik’s article, entitled “Beyond Secular Democracy: Religion, Politics, and Modernity,” was published in the July 2018 edition of International Studies Review. 

From the abstract of the article:

This review essay synthesizes fifteen years of scholarship challenging the presumed relationship between secularism and democracy—that state secularism provides the normative or institutional baseline for modern governance. The idea that states and societies become more secular as they develop economically is no longer supported by most social scientists, including its original proponents. Sociologists and anthropologists have increasingly studied secularism as a project, rather than a teleological process embedded in modernization, and the new scholarship on “comparative secularisms” demonstrates that the manifestations of secularism are complicated and varied. Despite these advances, the new scholarship suffers from insufficient attention to the measurement challenges posed by the diverse content of religion. And while scholars continue to debate the content and characteristics of our secular age, all of the recent scholarship highlights important differences between traditional and modern religion. In view of the current state of the literature, this essay lays out an agenda for research on religion and modernity, or on modernization without secularization.

Jeremy Menchik’s research interests include comparative politics, religion and politics, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His first book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explains the meaning of tolerance to the world’s largest Islamic organizations and was the winner of the 2017 International Studies Association award for the best book on religion and international relations. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for teaching and research, and his work has appeared in the academic journals Comparative Studies in Society and HistoryComparative Politics, International Studies Review, Politics and Religion, and South East Asia Research as well as in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Soft Separation Democracy

By driSeptember 5th, 2018in Faculty Associates, People, Publications

Many countries have created a “soft separation” between church and state rather than a wall as in the U.S. Jeremy Menchik, CGCM faculty associate, published a recent journal article examining the phenomenon.

The article focused on states where there is religious education in state schools, significant financial support for religious traditions, limitations on the freedom of nontraditional faiths, and where public opinion favors strong support for religion in public life and state policies. These states–Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, India, Indonesia, and Switzerland–demonstrate the need for scholars of democracy to look beyond secularism as the normative or institutional baseline for modern governance.

Menchik’s article, entitled “Soft Separation Democracy,” was published in Politics and Religion on June 26, 2018.

From the abstract of the article:

How do nonsecular democracies govern religion? Despite two decades of research on the many ways that church and state overlap in modern democracies, scholars lack an adequate answer to this question. Many consolidated democracies have a soft separation between church and state rather than a wall. These are not defective versions of democracy, but rather poorly understood institutional arrangements. To remedy this lacuna, this paper investigates institutional arrangements in six consolidated democracies with a soft separation between church and state: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, India, Indonesia, and Switzerland. After describing the institutional workings of these states, the paper develops hypotheses for the origins of soft separation democracy as well as addressing the challenges of this form of government. The paper concludes by suggesting three other potentially fruitful lines of analysis as well as elucidating the implications of soft separation democracy for U.S. foreign policy.

Jeremy Menchik’s research interests include comparative politics, religion and politics, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His first book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explains the meaning of tolerance to the world’s largest Islamic organizations and was the winner of the 2017 International Studies Association award for the best book on religion and international relations. He has received numerous awards and fellowships for teaching and research, and his work has appeared in the academic journals Comparative Studies in Society and History, Comparative Politics, International Studies Review, Politics and Religion, and South East Asia Research as well as in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Call for Papers: Christianity and Social Activism in Chinese Societies

By driAugust 29th, 2018in Call for Papers, World Christianity

February 24-26, 2019 (arriving on 23rd and departing on 27th)

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

The Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University invites papers that examine the relationship between Christianity and social activism in Chinese societies. We welcome both scholarly research papers of empirical or historical studies and personal reflection papers by Christian social activists.

Christianity is a minority religion in China, but one that has served as a catalyst for social change in China’s modernization. For instance, Christianity is closely associated with the introduction of modern education, modern medicine, modern press and media, modern charities and disaster relief, women’s liberation, and so on. Indeed, Christians have arguably played important roles in several major social movements, from the Taiping uprising to the Republican Revolution, and from the human rights and democratization movements in Taiwan to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, many of the social changes and social movements dramatically altered the social, cultural and political environment for Christianity. For example, following both the Boxer Uprising and the Cultural Revolution, Christianity experienced rapid growth for several decades.  Most strikingly, the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989 marked a watershed for the rapid increase in Chinese conversion to Christianity. Since then, in addition to rural residents, many urbanites and intellectuals have also turned to Christianity. Indeed, a large number of the 1989 democracy movement activists, in China or exiled, imprisoned or free, have become Christian. What are their conversion stories? What are their religious and social experiences before and after conversion? Has Christian conversion led to a change in their social and political views and activism?

The relationship between Christianity and social activism in Chinese societies has been under studied. To rectify this problem, at the onset of the year marking the 30th anniversary of the 1989 democracy movement, we plan to hold a conference on February 24-26, 2019. We invite social scientists, scholars in humanities, and theologians to present research papers on this theme. Meanwhile, we invite social movement activists to present papers reflecting on their own conversions, faith, and social activism.

Based on submitted abstracts, we will select 20 participants to make presentations. Hotel expenses of the presenters will be covered. A limited number of travel funds is available to subsidize transportation costs for those who apply.

Deadline to submit abstracts: September 30, 2018. The abstract should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Please include a brief c.v. and a note about whether or not applying for a travel subsidy and if so, how much. We will notify the selected participants of acceptance and travel funds by October 31, 2018.

Deadline to submit draft full paper: January 31, 2019. The paper should be no less than 5,000 words, with proper footnotes and referenced bibliography. We plan to publish a volume of the edited papers.

Please submit your abstract, c.v., a note about travel subsidy, and full paper to Lily Szeto lszeto@purdue.edu.