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Religion and Modernity in East Asia: Continuity and Re-invention

 Modernity has brought with it such great challenges to the East Asian religious traditions that even the word ‘religion’ (宗敎) itself had to be re-invented. In this seminar we will investigate the fascinating ways in which the religions of the region both participate in the formation of unique modernities, as well as continuously re-invent themselves in order to creatively adapt to contemporary trends. Each week will be dedicated to examining a particular subject matter through a broad international and multi-religious perspective. Topics will range from the engagement of East Asian religions with modern nationalism and violent conflicts to their flirtations with science and technology; from their negotiations with current democratic, socialist and capitalist values to their impact on the region’s fashionable gastronomic and popular culture; and from their dialogue with contemporary gender politics to their involvement in the leisure and tourist industries. In addition, attention will be given to the fascinating and rather successful attempts to globalize East Asian religions and propagate them in the West. Aside from looking at the modern restructuring of the traditional religions of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shamanism, and Shinto, we will also examine the successes and failures of Christianity in 20th and 21st-century East Asia, as well as some of the controversial hybrid new religious movements and cults that sprang up in the region.

## Grading will be based on class attendance and participation, weekly comments on the readings, presentations, and a final project.

semester: 
Credits in elective courses: 
4 Credits