Review of Religion and Chinese Society



Launched in 2014, Review of Religion and Chinese Society is an international peer-reviewed journal publishes articles and book reviews in the social sciences and certain humanities disciplines. All articles will be in English, and Chinese titles and abstracts will also be provided. RRCS is published by Brill Publishers.


“Religion” is understood in the broadest sense, including various spiritual and meaning-making systems of beliefs and practices.
“Chinese society” includes those in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Chinese diaspora communities in Asia, North America, Europe, and elsewhere throughout the world. The journal also welcomes studies that compare religion in Chinese and other societies.


RRCS is multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary in its outlook and presents theoretical and empirical studies of religion in disciplines such as anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology, and history. Preferred articles are theory-driven, empirical studies, although the journal also publishes articles that are primarily empirical or theoretical.

The journal publishes reviews of books that have been published in English, Chinese, and other languages. It may also publish review essays of particular fields, symposia of particular topics, interviews with renowned scholars, and reports of academic conferences relevant to the journal’s themes.
Article submissions and proposals for special issues are welcome.

Editorial Board

Editor in Chief:
Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology and Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society
Purdue University, USA


Associate Editors:
Ryan Dunch, Associate Professor and Chair of East Asian Studies
University of Alberta, Canada

André Laliberté, Professor of Political Science
University of Ottawa, Canada

David Palmer, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology
The University of Hong Kong
Book Review Editor:
Jonathan E. Pettit, Assistant Professor of Chinese Religion
University of Hawaii, USA
Editorial Board:
Hsing-kuang Chao (Tunghai University, Taiwan)
Adam Chau (Cambridge University, UK)
Kenneth Dean (McGill University, Canada)
Stephen Feuchtwang (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
Shining Gao (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
Vincent Goossaert (CNRS-EPHE, France)
Zhe Ji (INALCO, France)
Xiangping Li (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Xi Lian (Duke University, USA)
Richard Madsen (University of California, San Diego, USA)
Anna Sun (Kenyon College, Ohio, USA)
Michael Szonyi (Harvard University, USA)
Yen-zen Tsai (Chengchi University, Taiwan)
Carsten Vala (Loyola University Maryland, USA)
David Wank (Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan)
Robert Weller (Boston University, USA)
Mei-hui Mayfair Yang (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)
Fuk-tsang Ying (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Volume 4, Issue 1 (2017)


How Chinese are Chinese Christians Today? / Fenggang Yang


Research Articles


Reading Religion in China Today / Naomi Thurston
This article, based on qualitative fieldwork among Chinese scholars of Christianity whom I interviewed between 2011 and 2015, explores the nexus between scholarly inquiry, cross-disciplinary negotiation, and religious belonging, specifically among the first generation of scholars researching Christianity after the launch of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and opening-up. The article presents a typology of the researchers that is informed by interviewees’ disciplinary, religious, and discursive alignments. It also addresses the question of how the academic discipline of theology might find new anchorage in the landscape of “Sino-Christian studies,” with its many voices and varied interests.


The Ecological Impact on Bonding and Religious Identity / Cynthia Baiqing Zhang
Linking concepts from networks, identities, and ecology, I draw on material collected during sixty interviews to show how a group of culturally homogeneous Chinese graduate students, when placed in two sociocultural environments in the United States, displayed different processes of religious identity network formation. In a large and heterogeneous community with more possible identities, students showed human agency by forming religious identities less constrained by networks. Human agency is also exemplified in the expansion of their religious circle of friends once they developed a religious identity. Religious identity often preceded networks. However, in a small and homogeneous community, students did emotion work to stay in pro-religious groups, presumably due to the limitations they had in choosing friends, particularly Chinese friends. The formation of networks more likely preceded the emergence of religious identities premised on the coexistence of multiple relationships in dyads and solidarity within primary groups. The narratives demonstrate how ecology matters for the formation of network ties and religious identity.


From “Children of the Devil” to “Sons of God” / Teresa Zimmerman-Liu
Guanxi is the Chinese system of ideas and practices constituting social relationships and can be considered the foundation of Chinese societies. Protestant Christianity spread over guanxi networks from its first introduction to China, changing both guanxi and Christianity in the process. This paper proposes a causal model of guanxi and then analyzes how it was reconstituted in the indigenous Chinese Protestant group, the Local Churches. It is based on published writings by Local Church founders and members and on the author’s thirty years of experience with the group. This case contributes to the academic understanding of guanxi and Chinese Christianity, finding that extension of family, supply of resources, and social interaction are the core aspects of guanxi, but that specific practices change in the Christian context to preserve biblical commandments. Because guanxi networks are bonding rather than bridging, Chinese Christian groups will tend to diverge more than they converge.


The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Wenzhou Entrepreneurs in Milan and in Their Homeland / Ottavio Palombaro
Despite challenges from the government because of its large Protestant population, Wenzhou has come to be known as “the Jerusalem of China.” Many of the city’s entrepreneurial “boss Christians” (laoban jidutu 老板基督徒) have exported their successful businesses overseas. The empirical findings presented in this paper are part of an in-depth, comparative, qualitative study of Chinese entrepreneurs working in Milan, Italy. Treating the house churches as a sect and examining the nature of the “calling” (yi xiang 异象) described by boss Christians provides an opportunity to reconsider Max Weber’s discussion of the so-called Protestant ethic and the concept of Beruf (calling). The interviews were conducted among Protestant and non-Christian business owners active in Milan’s Chinatown and other areas in Italy, and also during fieldwork in their homeland in China. The study points out the connection between their business ethic and Protestantism.


“Culture Wars” in a Globalized East / Ke-hsien Huang
An astonishingly large Christian coalition has emerged to protest the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, an alleged beacon for the promotion of gay rights in Asia. This article investigates how Taiwanese conservative Christianity, which had been politically inactive for decades, has publically mobilized itself since the early 2010s, particularly in reaction to the gay-rights movement. I examine how the shifting role of the state in Taiwan encouraged conservative Christians to stand up and speak against gay-rights issues. Transnational religious networks in East Asia facilitated Taiwanese conservative Christianity’s affiliation with a united and well-organized cross-denominational force targeting gay rights. Lately, religious entrepreneurs have emerged to integrate resources from business, politics, and academia that are necessary for political engagement. All these factors have contributed to this religious movement in the public sphere, a rarity in the Chinese world. I also analyze the ensuing secularist backlash: the anti-gay-rights movement is described as an anti-human-civilization movement in which charismatic leaders, portrayed as evil magicians, utilize a variety of strategies to deceive naive, ignorant believers.


Book Reviews


Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Ecoaesthetics. By Dan Smyer Yü / Nicole Willock


The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future. By Prasenjit Duara. / Ting Guo


Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China. By Stuart H. Young. / Alexander O. Hsu

Volume 3, Issue 2 (2016)

Volume 3, Issue 1 (2016)

Volume 2, Issue 2 (2015)

Volume 2, Issue 1 (2015)

Volume 1, Issue 2 (2014)

Volume 1, Issue 1 (2014)



Online submission: Articles for publication in the Review of Religion and Chinese Society can be submitted online through Editorial Manager, please click here.

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Review of Religion and Chinese Society
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