The Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, and the Social Science Research Council have announced plans for the third Conference on Inter-Asian Connections, to be held June 6-8, 2012. This year’s conference will include a workshop directed by Christophe Jaffrelot and Mirjam Künkler on Networks of Religious Learning and the Dissemination of Religious Knowledge in Asia.
Posts Tagged ‘Asia’
Globalization is not defined by one-way Westernization, argues Peter Berger in his new blog at The American Interest Online. Rather, it is a far more complex process than is commonly imagined, and this is indicated, for starters, by the often overlooked influence of Eastern traditions on contemporary Western culture.
Following the successful inaugural conference held in Dubai in February 2008, the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, and the Social Science Research Council have announced plans for the second Conference on Inter-Asian Connections. There is an open call for proposals from faculty members of accredited colleges and universities from around the globe, to direct one of six thematic workshops, including one on religion and law, at a three-day international conference to be held in Singapore on December 8-10, 2010.
Charles Taylor’s framework for understanding the advent of a “secular age” in the North Atlantic world offers a useful first draft for understanding the place of religion in Asian modernity. As I have shown in my previous two posts, modern Asian countries have secular states, but, despite efforts of some states to destroy all religion, they still have religious societies. In this post, I will discuss how new cultural conditions of belief give religion a different valence than it had in pre-modern times. Taylor’s framework, however, is only a first draft. [...]
The secularity of modern Asian states has by no means led to widespread social secularity, Taylor’s second secularity, a decline of religious belief and practice among ordinary people. The degree of religious practice varies from country to country, but almost everywhere temples, mosques, churches, and shrines are ubiquitous and full of people, especially during festival seasons. Even in China, where the government actively propagates an atheist ideology and has severely restricted open religious activities, it has been estimated that as much as ninety-five percent of the population engages from time to time in some form of religious practice. Moreover, throughout Asia there have been impressive revivals and reformations of Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian religious beliefs and practices—Asia is religiously dynamic.
In his monumental book, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor distinguishes three meanings of secularism, as it refers to the “North Atlantic societies” of Western Europe and North America. Can this analytic framework be applied outside of the North Atlantic world, particularly to Asian societies? Taylor himself would not claim to have created a framework for a universal theory of comparative religion. But this framework, grounded in a particular cultural and historical experience, may nonetheless be useful for cross cultural comparisons.