Religion and Chinese Society Journal Launched

West Lafayette, Indiana - Research about religion and Chinese society will be expanded with a new academic journal dedicated to these topics that were once overlooked just a few decades ago. Purdue University's Center on Religion and Chinese Society is launching the journal this month.

The Review of Religion and Chinese Society will be published by Brill. Fenggang Yang, professor of sociology and director of the center, is the editor-in-chief.

"A couple of decades ago religious trends in China were not studied or publicly discussed until reform came in the early 1980s," said Yang who also is the 2014-15 president-elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. "Today there is a religious revival in China and the reality is that these changes and trends affect the political, economic and social reforms of world's largest country. This journal will capture and report on the leading social science findings tracking these incredible dynamics of such religious changes and evolution."

Since 2004, Yang has led many summer institutes and organized a series of empirical research projects on religion and Chinese society with the goal of training new scholars and rallying well-known scholars in the world for U.S., Europe and China to develop the social scientific study of religion in China. Purdue's Center on Religion and Chinese Society was established in 2008.

The first issue of the international peer-reviewed journal will be available online for free download through 2015. The scholarship featured in the inaugural issue includes the first comparative study of Catholics in four studies of multiple Chinese societies and a study of four types of Protestant churches in Beijing. Also of note is an exclusive interview with leading sociology of religion professor Robert N. Bellah, who died unexpectedly after the interview. He was a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley.

"He was the most prominent sociologist of religion, and this interview about religion in China and the West is kind of his last word for our field," Yang said.

All articles will be in English and accompanied by Chinese titles and abstracts. The new journal will include studies on religious societies of mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, and Chinese communities throughout the world. The journal will feature scholarship such as studies, book reviews and essays from a variety of fields such as anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology and history.

The Chinese government officially allows only five religions: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism, and these religions are increasing rapidly. And at the same time, there also are other unofficial religious groups emerging.

Yang, whose research focuses on immigrant religion in the United States, Chinese Christianity around the world, and religious change and church-state relations in China, is the author of "Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule" and "Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities." Yang's current research focuses on Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism in mainland China. He will serve as a visiting scientist at the University of Padova in Italy this summer. 

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