Chinese Philosophy and its Religious Minorities: ethnicity, religion, and national identity in modern Chinese thought and the discipline of "ethnic minority philosophies"

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • History of philosophy
    • Philosophy of religion
    • Philosophy not elsewhere classified
    • History of religions, churches and theology
    • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
contemporary Chinese philosophy religion in modern China ethnicity in modern Chinese intellectual history Chinese 20th Century Contemporary Comparative Language and text analysis Far East History Religion Interculturalism Philosophy
Project description

This project seeks to rethink the history of modern Chinese thought by providing the first ever study of the academic discipline of “ethnic minority philosophies” in the People’s Republic of China. It will focus on the much neglected relation between the imported categories of “philosophy” and “religion” and conceptions of ethnicity in twentieth-century and contemporary Chinese thought. The field of ethnic minority philosophies emerged in the 1980s after the Maoist period, but can be traced back to earlier conceptions of the nexus between philosophical, religious, and ethnic identity in the work of the first generations of academically trained Chinese philosophers in the Republican era (1911-1949). This relatively new discipline reflects the increasing ideological and institutional pressure to which (religious) minorities are subject in contemporary China. As such, the problem of "minority philosophy" will be studied against the backdrop of the ongoing revival of Confucian philosophy as a "civil religion" in the People's Republic. The project is organized around three central questions: 1) How has modern Chinese philosophy conceived of its relation to religion and ethnicity? 2) How did "ethnic minority philosophy" come into existence and what is its broader relevance for Chinese intellectual history? 3) What can the triangular relation between philosophy, religion, and ethnicity teach us about the practice and conditions of philosophy in contemporary China?