Mapping Chinese Spiritual Capital

Second English Writing Workshop for the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China

Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
August 2-14, 2017
Luke Chao

Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and co-organized by the Department of Religions and Cultures at Concordia University, the Center on Religion and Chinese Society (CRCS) of Purdue University held the second English writing workshop for the Social Scientific Study of Religion in China at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, from August 3-14, 2017. Thirteen scholars from mainland China, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Europe were selected to participate in the workshop. Focusing on the scientific study of religion in China, these scholars were of various disciplinary background including sociology, economics, religious study, and anthropology.
Aiming to promote Chinese scholarship in the scientific study of religion to the Western academia, the CRCS writing workshop provided a great opportunity for Chinese scholars to communicate with Western scholars directly. To familiarize the Chinese scholars with the international academic environment, the writing workshop invited internationally renowned scholars to give lectures on how to conduct, write, and publish research articles about religion in China. To promote the English writing and presenting skills of the Chinse scholars, the participants of the writing workshop were required to communicate and present their research in English.
Professor Fenggang Yang, the Director of CRCS held a warm welcome ceremony on August 3rd. In his speech, Dr. Yang briefly introduced the CRCS, reviewed the recent developments in the social scientific study of religion in China, and offered his own outlook on the future research about religion in China. He also provided his reflection on how to promote the social scientific study of religion in China to the international audience. Our local host Professor Marc des Jardins from Concordia University also extended his warm welcome to the participants.
On August 3-4, Professor Carsten Vala from Loyola University, Maryland, delivered the first two lectures of the workshop. Using his own experiences, Professor Vala illustrated how to collect and formulate ethnographic data in the Chinese context. He paid particular attention to writing the thesis statement, the heart of a strong research article.
On August 7-9, Professor David Palmer from the University of Hong Kong gave lectures on how to formulate claim and evidence, and write a conclusion. He discussed the importance of the clarity of the concepts and terms used in the research and showed the participants how to make the claims more understandable by analyzing published journal articles. Professor Palmer also discussed practical skills such as how to revise and resubmit as well as how to present research in international academic venues.
Dr. Fenggang Yang gave three lectures on how to challenge the established theoretical framework in the sociology of religion and develop new theories. In his lectures, Dr. Yang showed the emerging scholars the practical strategies on how to make the arguments that challenge the existed theories acceptable to the academia. Using his own experiences in the past years, Dr. Yang discussed how to deal with ideological, methodological, and editorial prejudices in the process of journal submission. He also discussed his research on how to theorize a messy research field and lay the ground for future research.
Professor des Jardins from the Department of Religions and Cultures of Concordia University gave a special presentation on the resurgence of the Tibetan Bon religion in contemporary China. His presentation focused on an often neglected religion – the Bon religion in Tibet, China.
Dr. Luke Chao, the postdoctoral research fellow at the CRCS also gave a lecture in the workshop. His lecture focused on the practical issues in academic research. He discussed the various writing styles in Western academia, as well as the possible publishing venues for the social scientific study of religion.
As planned, the workshop concluded with the presentations of the participants at the annual meeting of the Association of Sociology of Religion held in Montreal from August 13-14. As a result of the 11 days of intensive training in English, the participants presented their papers in English confidently and professionally, and were able to smoothly communicate with the audience.