Special Issue "Religion and Crisis in Late Imperial and Modern China"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 January 2023 | Viewed by 140

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Thoralf Klein
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Relations, Politics and History, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK
Interests: social and cultural history of China, 18th to 20th centuries; religion in modern China, with special emphasis on Christianity and political religions; imperialism and (post-)colonialism; representations of China in the West; transcultural studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We welcome contributions for a Special Issue on “Religion and Crisis in Late Imperial and Modern China”, covering the period from the mid-17th century to the present. Crisis is understood here as a specific moment in time that sees a coalescence of circumstances and/or developments existentially threatening, or appearing to threaten, the status quo. Crises come in different forms and sizes, and they occur at both the personal and collective levels, although it is obvious that personal experiences of and responses to a crisis are shaped by the social and cultural context within which that person lives (cf. Diamond 2019, 32–49). Crises are “both ‘real’, in the sense of actual changes in social processes, and socially constructed, in the sense that different interpretations of the crisis have implications for its outcome” (Walby 2015, 24). In fact, people’s “experience of crisis” (Roitman 2014, 2) may matter more than real facts, and in some cases, crises may entirely be a product of the imaginary. Crises generate uncertainty, as the only assured fact is that they will end but when and how they will be resolved remains unclear (Koselleck 1958, 127). Living through them is thus fraught with pain and fear. On the other hand, they may also be perceived as a transitory state on the trajectory towards a better future, thus carrying a promise of betterment or renewal.

Contributors are invited to add to a systematic evaluation of the topic by presenting case studies addressing any form of religion that has existed in China between the early Qing period and the present day (including, of course, popular religion). Case studies may address, but are not limited to, the following guiding questions:

  • How did religions conceptualise crisis, both at the individual and collective levels? What concepts and techniques, if any, did they provide to predict and diagnose crises?
  • How did individuals and communities mobilise religious practices, concepts and—where applicable—beliefs to respond to crises? In so doing, how did they navigate between tradition and innovation? How did crises impact on religion—for example, to what extent did they lead to changes in concepts, practices, and affiliations?
  • How did religious individuals and religious communities organize pragmatic responses to crises, e.g., by means of political activism, philanthropic, or humanitarian activities?
  • To what extent did religious practices, concepts, and—where applicable—beliefs themselves cause crises, both at the personal level (e.g., where they failed to generate desired outcomes) and at the collective level (e.g., sectarian rebellion or violent responses to religious change such as the ‘missionary cases’)?
  • To what extent did the rise of secular worldviews and political movements such as scientism, nationalism and Marxism lead to a crisis of religion, both as an abstract concept and in the form of concrete religious communities? Did religious institutions or organizations conceive of national policies regulating or even attacking religion as a crisis and how did they respond? Conversely, to what extent can the renewal of religious activities and spirituality over the past decades be seen, as the French sinologist Claude Meyer (2021, 25–38) has recently argued, as a response to the moral crisis Chinese society has found itself in?

Proposals including a title, an abstract of up to 500 words and a short bio of approx. 200 words should be submitted to Thoralf Klein () by 15 July 2022.

Dr. Thoralf Klein
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • religion
  • crisis
  • China
  • crisis management
  • disaster
  • war
  • anti-religious movements

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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