China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: The issues of adaptation, interaction, and indigenization of and between the various religions in China, have been subjects of scholarly inquiry for decades. The discourse of “sinicization” resurged in 2015 as the Chinese government employed the term as an ideological framework to regulate religions, putting the issue at the forefront in both public and academic discussions. This panel, consisting of papers in history, political science, and sociology, attempts to address and complicate the notion of “sinicization” from late imperial to contemporary China. Two papers examine the usefulness and complexity of “sinicization” as an analytical framework for scholars studying cross-religious communication in China, specifically the translation, production, and interpretation of non-Chinese religious works. The first paper studies how Chinese Muslims, drawing on early modern Chinese print culture, produced their own canon of Islam and generated “Chinese Islamic” knowledge. The other paper shows that, when Taixu and other Chinese Buddhist reformers in the Republican period introduced Tibetan esoteric Buddhism as an inspiration, they contested and generated new meanings for the introduced knowledge. The panel also looks into how the scholarly concept of “sinicization” has been politicized by the Chinese government in its recently formulated religious policy. The third paper explores the state’s tightening control of Christianity amid massive urbanization in Zhejiang, evaluating the impact of the sinicization policy. The last paper studies the differential treatment of religious groupings under the policy. In sum, the panel seeks to critically re-evaluate “sinicization” as both a scholarly and a political discourse in China.
Paper Presenter: Wei Wu – Emory University
Paper Presenter: Shaodan Zhang – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Paper Presenter: Xiaoxuan Wang – Independent Scholar
Paper Presenter: Kuei-min Chang – National Taiwan University