Theme: “East-West Encounters and Religious Change in Modernizing East Asia”
Dates: July 27-28, 2019
Place: Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
East Asia has undergone globalization and modernization in the last five hundred years. The first encounter between East Asia and the modernizing West was with the Jesuit missionaries in the late 16th century in China, Korea, and Japan, where their inculturation strategy succeeded in attracting some converts in certain social circles. The cultural and political elites in these countries began to realize the uniqueness of the institutional religion of Catholicism in contrast to the local customary religiosities originated from Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. In response, Christianity was suppressed in East Asia until the mid-19th century, when the second encounter between the East and the West brought about waves of modernization to East Asian countries. Under the Western-hegemony, Asian countries were coerced to modernize or Westernize, adopting a modern system of law, bureaucracy, education system, and abolishing many of their own traditions. The concept of religion and the relationship between religion and the state have been constructed and reconstructed in the process of this East-West encounter in the process of modernization. Along with the introduction of science and technology, theory of evolution, atheism, and various ideologies, East Asian societies became rapidly secularized. In the first half of the 20th century, most states in East Asia enforced administrative control over religions.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, East Asian societies have diverged in their paths of social development and religious change. In mainland China, following a period of eradication of religion in the 1960s and 1970s, some religions have revived in spite of strong state control. In Taiwan, institutional Buddhism and other Chinese religions have undergone modernization and many religions have thrived since the end of martial law. South Korea has experienced the rapid rise of Christianity, with nearly 30% of the population identifying as either Protestant or Catholic. Japan retained traditional religions and added many new religions in the free market religious economy, but today organized religions are in steady decline due to aging and secularization. Why are these societies so different even though they shared similar traditional religiosities and experiences of modernization in response to the West?
At present, East Asian countries have strengthened their economic and cultural exchanges despite occasional political tension among them. Religious exchange has also accelerated with the growth of missionaries and migrant populations. Religious diversity has increased and nationalism has risen in response to the perceived foreign religions. Meanwhile, religions or religiosities originating in East Asia have spread to the West and other parts of the world. How do the various states in the region manage religious pluralism and provide social space for migrants and missionary religions? How do individuals and communities of the Global East practice religion in late modernity?
In short, East Asia has varieties of religious institutions and communities, folk religions and new religions, and atheism and other secularisms. The research on religion in East Asia needs historical, sociological, political, and other perspectives. While all topics on religion are welcome at the conference, we especially invite papers that address one or more of the following research questions:
· How did religions and their practitioners in the Global East encounter and respond to Christianity backed by western modernity and hegemonic power in recent centuries?
· How were the concepts of the boundary between religion and secularity, administrative control of religions in authoritative regimes and the policy of religious pluralism formed in the Global East?
· What kind of similarity and difference in traditional and new religions are there in the Global East?
· How has secularization proceeded in the Global East and manifested in the growth of religious “nones” and in the new forms of “believing without belonging” and “belonging without believing”?
Beyond addressing these questions, we seek a range of papers that draw on different geographical contexts and religious traditions. We particularly encourage proposals of organized sessions with 3-4 papers addressing the same religion or topic. For individual papers we will arrange them in the session of similar topics.
- Presentation proposals are due by January 31, 2019. Please submit your paper’s title, abstract (200 to 500 words), author’s information by clicking here: Submit Paper Presentation Proposal for EASSSR 2019 Conference. For submission-related questions, please email: Lily C Szeto, firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Notification of acceptance of presentation proposals will be sent out by February 28, 2019.
- Meeting Registration will be open between March 1 and 31, 2019.
- Participants need to make their own hotel reservations (see information below).