The study of religion in China has a long history across a number of interrelated disciplines. In recent years, scholars have been reassessing past scholarship and synthesizing it in new ways. The three-volume project “Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions” is one of the most exciting of these endeavors and establishes productive groundwork for future research. It includes three books: Stefania Travagnin, André Laliberté, Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions I: State of the Field and Disciplinary Approaches (De Gruyter, 2019); Stefania Travagnin, Gregory Scott, Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions II: Intellectual History of Key Concepts (De Gruyter, 2020); and Stefania Travagnin, Paul R. Katz, Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions III: Key Concepts in Practice (De Gruyter, 2019).
The contributions evaluate the current state of scholarship, discusses a variety of analytical approaches and theories about methodology, epistemology, and the ontology of the field. The three books display an interdisciplinary approach and offer debates that transcend national traditions. It engages with a variety of methodologies for the study of East Asian religions and promotes dialogues with Western and Chinese voices. In my conversation with Stefania Travagnin, Professor at SOAS and co-editor of all 3 volumes, we discuss the catalyst for the project, co-editing and organizing of a large interdisciplinary effort, how one can define Chinese religions, representative disciplinary approaches and themes of previous scholarship, Chinese keywords and categories for studying religion, the importance of regional or local contexts, diaspora communities and global China, religious interaction and cross-tradition approaches, and future directions to advance the field of Chinese religions.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at email@example.com.