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Lecture: Push and Pull: Toward a Taylorian Theory of Alternative Modernities

May 2022 @ 16:00 - 18:00

Push and Pull: Toward a Taylorian Theory of Alternative Modernities
Justin Ritzinger, Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
University of Miami


May 6, 2022, 4 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
On Zoom: For registration, please use this zoom link.

Religion occupies a vexed position in many visions of modernity. It stands as the embodiment of “tradition,” of the nonmodern, of the irrational. It is thus presumed to be condemned to a shrinking sphere of social and cultural life. This has typically been construed as a “challenge” to which religion must “adapt” lest it face extinction. This adaptation typically includes demythologization, rationalization, and social engagement. Such understandings of modernization, which I term “push models,” are useful but insufficient. They fail to account not only for religion’s continuing hold on the hearts of many but also the inspiration modernity gave to many modernizing figures. This talk will offer a counterbalancing “pull model,” drawing upon the account of moral frameworks in Sources of the Self to develop a Taylorian theory of the formulation of alternative modernities. Illustrated with reference to developments in religion in Republican China, this theory may offer new angles for understanding this process in other areas of cultures as well.

Justin Ritzinger is associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Miami. He received his PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard in 2010. His work focuses on modern and contemporary Chinese Buddhism. He is the author of a monograph on the reinvention of the cult of Maitreya, entitled Anarchy in the Pure Land, and articles dealing with eschatology, engagements with evolutionary theory, and international monastic exchange, as well as tourist development in the contemporary People’s Republic. He is currently working on an ethnographic study of a blue-collar lay Buddhist group in Taiwan. At the University of Miami, Ritzinger teaches courses in Asian religions.


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


May 2022
16:00 - 18:00
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