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Lecture: Is Modern Chinese History Secular?

April 2022 @ 16:00 - 18:00

Is Modern Chinese History Secular?
Rebecca Nedostup, Associate Professor of History & East Asian Studies,
Brown University


April 29, 2022, 4 PM, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
On Zoom: For registration, please use this Zoom link.


This lecture takes up the most fundamental construction of secularization – the separation of the religious realm from that of politics, philosophy, science, economics, and so on – and asks not simply how it has influenced modern Chinese history, but also historians’ imaginations of modern China. What are some routes by which the modern secularist narrative has been naturalized in considerations of the twentieth century, and where is it challenged or reinforced? Is a flourishing field of modern religious history sufficient to break down such barriers? How might other fields and disciplines redirect inquiry in positive critical directions? In its second part, the lecture will consider two cases of mid-twentieth-century transformations in conceptions of self, sovereignty, and community – one centered on sacrifice, the other on aid and recovery. These cases offer one possible set of methods among many, in which attention to scale and juxtaposition of sources portray the continued existence and reworkings of senses of space and time apart from the secular-nationalist narrative.


This lecture is part of the lecture series New Perspectives on Modernity in China.

Prof. Dr. Axel Schneider, University of Göttingen
Prof. Dr. Thomas Fröhlich, University of Hamburg

CeMEAS – Centre for Modern East Asian Studies & Department of East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen

Asia-Africa- Institute, Department for Chinese Language and Culture, University of Hamburg

Department of East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen



Academic Confucius Institute, University of Göttingen


Image: sung ming whang: Early saturday morning in color, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/6E5PXd


April 2022
16:00 - 18:00