How to Build Smart Society

Activity: Participating in/organising an eventOrganising a conference, workshop, ...


Modern societies often draw the boundary distinguishing the actions appropriate to government from other social practices, by recourse to a normative model of a secular nation-state made up of citizens free to act on private religious commitments as long as they do not injure others. As theorists like Talal Asad have shown, however, that model emerged from a specific moment in the history of Protestant Europe. Using Chinese history as an example, I will describe traditional models for distinguishing appropriate state action from acceptable non-state practices in both pre-Buddhist and post-Buddhist China, showing in what ways the categories are similar to and different from the modern secular state/private religion model. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in China, the traditional models were partly replaced by modern categories from the West. Nevertheless, today they provide an alternative taxonomy that holds the potential for reconsidering categories like religion, ideology and the state in ways that might be more suitable to China’s present.

Hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of History, and Modern History Research Centre, HKBU, and sponsored by ESRI China Hong Kong

Number of attendees (for events)

Period29 May 2019
Event typeLecture