Manning Chan analyzes a seventeenth century Catholic-Confucian scholar’s intervention in the Chinese Rites Controversy and his use of the concept of xiao/filial piety to assert the commensurability of Catholic theology and Chinese socio-ethical practices. This intervention helped fuse Catholic and Chinese identities for the remainder of the imperial period. Yiming Shen discusses the Islamic jingxue school in the Ming and Qing, demonstrating its usage of classical Chinese philosophical terms to translate Islamic scriptures, thus producing a unique Chinese Muslim identity. Joshua Sooter’s paper concerns the philosophical translation of the modern concept of religion into late Qing China as mediated through the methodologies, concerns, and historiographies of Confucian evidentiary scholarship. Finally, Yue Du scrutinizes the nationalist cult of Sun Yat-sen as a foreign-inspired civil religion of the nation-state that, influenced by images of George Washington and Vladimir Lenin, produced a pater patriae discourse around Sun that was integrated with the longer-standing social expectation of filial obedience to ruling powers.
This panel will seek to foster open discussion among its members and the audience on the benefits of, and methods for conducting, research approaches that are sensitive to histories of ideas crossing state borders and perceived sociocultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries. Accordingly, the papers will not merely be read, but rather briefly summarized by the presenters with special emphasis on the theoretical structures and methodologies employed. This panel will not merely speak to and with scholars of China, but to those interested in using methodologies with global lenses to illuminate regional and national histories. Specifically, we will explore how processes of exchange and identity formation are linked to global forces and actors and how these processes have shown continuities and differed over time. As a site of intense global and cross-national trade, imperialist activity, religious and intellectual contact, and extreme social and political change over the last four centuries, this panel will highlight the history of China from a global perspective to address the broader theoretical and methodological concerns of this conference.