Introduction: Opiate of the Masses with Chinese Characteristics: Recent Chinese Scholarship on the Meaning and Future of Religion

Thomas DuBois, Chi Zhen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Along with the revival of religion itself, China since the 1980s has seen a flowering of theoretical scholarship about the nature of religion, its role in society, and its ultimate fate under socialism. This sort of scholarship divides into themes and schools. The field of religious studies, which is grounded in various branches of the social sciences, has only recently emerged as a discipline in its own right. This field is small but growing, albeit slowly. It stands in stark contrast to Marxist or Marxist-Leninist theory, the study of which continues to occupy a place of prominence in universities and research institutes nationwide, and which also has much to say about the essential features of religion. This collection draws on essays from Religious Studies Theory (Zongjiaoxue lilun) and Marxist Approaches to Religion and Issues in Chinese Contemporary Religion (Makesi zhuyi zongjiao guan yu dangdai Zhongguo zongjiao), two volumes in the series “Highlights of Contemporary Chinese Religion Research” (Dangdai Zhongguo zongjiao yanjiu jingxuan congshu), originally published by Minzu Press in 2008. On its own, each of the original volumes comprises a survey of the state of the field as it is practiced at a particular level in China. Together, they provide insight into how these two perspectives relate to each other, the changing landscape of ideas about religion and Marxism themselves, and the role that this very particular sphere of high-level scholarship might play in the formation and promotion of government policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMarxism and Religion
    Editors Lu Daji and Gong Xuezeng
    Place of PublicationLeiden, The Netherlands
    PublisherKoninklijke Brill
    ISBN (Print)9789004174566
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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