This proposed initiative will expand the social scientific study of religion in China by pursuing three inter-related goals: mapping the religious landscape and the changing religious markets, assessing spiritual capital in the emerging civil society, and nourishing the growing field through publishing first-rate research in a new journal.
(1) Mapping the religious landscape and the changing religious markets. We will produce an atlas that includes maps, charts, images and descriptions of religious life in China; and a handbook of the changing religious markets in China. We will also develop an online interface to archive and present the geodata, audio/video materials, and interactive maps. Together these will set the benchmark of the status and changing dynamics of spiritual and religious traditions in Chinese society.
(2) Assessing spiritual capital in the emerging civil society. By spiritual capital we mean the value created by religious and spiritual social networks that enable people and groups to bond together and to serve others. How have religions survived and revived under Communist rule? We will conduct oral history interviews with 100 Christian leaders and 100 Buddhist leaders. What roles do Christians and Buddhists play in the growing civil society during the market and democratic transitions? We will also conduct in-depth interviews with 100 Christian professionals and 100 Buddhist professionals.
(3) Nourishing the field and expanding first-rate, independent research on religion in China through launching the journal Review of Religion and Chinese Society and through organizing writing workshops for younger scholars: Each year we will organize a two-week writing workshop at Purdue by selecting participants among those who have done research on religion in China and are motivated to publish in international journals in English. We’ll publish two special issues based on the research in the first two parts of the new initiative.