* Yang's Web site

April 17, 2008

Symposium celebrates new Center on Religion and Chinese Society

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An April 23 symposium will celebrate Purdue University's new Center on Religion and Chinese Society, which is housed in the College of Liberal Arts.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is 2-5:30 p.m. at the Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 129.

Keynote speaker Robert Weller, a professor of anthropology at Boston University, will speak at 2:15 p.m. on "Religion and the Public Good in the Chinese World." Weller will discuss findings on the ways that religious institutions are meeting broad social needs in mainland China, Taiwan and among Chinese in Malaysia, says Fenggang Yang, center director and an associate professor of sociology.

Three other presentations will follow the keynote address. They are:

* Qingxiang Guo, professor of philosophy at Renmin University of China, will present "The Revivals of Confucianism in China Today" from 3:45-4:15 p.m.

* Xiaoqun Wu, professor of folklorics at Henan University, will present "Traditional Folk Religion and the Emerging Civil Society in China" from 4:15-4:45 p.m.

* Liping Liang, professor of political science and public administration at Shanxi University, will present "Secularization or Institutionalization? Religious Change amid China's Social Transition" from 4:45-5:15 p.m.

* From 5:15-5:30 p.m., the panelists will field questions.

Purdue's new center focuses on religions in Chinese societies, including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Chinese communities, says Yang, who has published numerous books and articles on various religions in China and among Chinese Americans.

"I am not aware of any other centers in North America that are devoted to studying religion in China," Yang says. "But more and more people are taking an interest in this field. There have been sweeping and rapid changes in China, such as industrialization, urbanization and overall democratization, and there is a religious dimension that affects all areas of growth.

"Religious changes in China could have profound impacts on Chinese culture, economy, politics and international relations. So it's important to know about religion in China in order to understand China and its future development. Besides, the Summer Olympics has brought great attention to China, including its religious communities and religious policy."

The 2008 Summer Olympics will take place in Beijing in August.

The Chinese government officially allows only five religions: Buddhism, Daosim, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Yang says. All of these religions and many other traditional and new religious groups are increasing rapidly, he says.

In addition to support from the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the April 23 symposium and the center are supported by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation.

John Contreni, Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Viktor Gecas, professor and head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, will provide opening remarks at the beginning of the symposium.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Source: Fenggang Yang, (765) 494-2641,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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