Multiple identities are a standard feature of human culture and society. Everyone possesses what French sociologist Bernard Lahire has called an internal plurality (2011). As Lahire sees it, individuals are ‘the bearer[s] of heterogeneous habits, schemes, or dispositions which may be contrary or even contradictory to one another’ (2003: 344). Relatedly, in their comprehensive work on identity theory, Peter J. Burke and Jan E. Stets have argued that, ‘We take on many identities over the course of a lifetime, and at any point in time we have many identities that could be activated’ (2009: 131). In other words, everyone’s internal plurality includes multiple identities that can be activated for diverse purposes. (Continue reading the introduction here.)
This is an interview conducted in 2018 with Dr Emma Wild-Wood, alumna and now Senior Lecturer in the Centre for the Study of World Christianity. In this video, Dr Wild-Wood discusses her research on the East African revival and recent edited volume Relocating World Christianity (Brill 2017).
Why did you want to produce this study on the True Jesus Church?
I first encountered the True Jesus Church in China when a woman struck up a conversation with my husband and my baby son on a bus in a city. She invited him to church that evening. At the time we were attending a local Three-Self congregation, so he asked, “Is it a Three-Self church meeting?” She said no. So he asked, “Is it a house church meeting?” She said no. I was intrigued to hear about this church that defied the categories I had in my mind for Chinese Christianity. I went to the meeting place in a sort of commercial building and found that it was in fact a True Jesus Church. I had previously encountered the True Jesus Church in Taiwan but was surprised to find them here, in the PRC. In addition to being intrigued by the True Jesus Church’s out-of-the-box identity, I also wanted to investigate the relationship between native religious culture and transplanted Christian culture within the church. It struck me as extremely Chinese, but also very like other global forms of restorationist Christianity such as Mormonism.
Viewers of the BBC’s Scots in China with Neil Oliver were treated to a few images from the CSWC’s archives. The images show Scottish medical missionary Dugald Christie, Chinese medical assistants, and some unidentified workers wearing masks to protect them from the plague. Christie was born in Glencoe in 1855, studied medicine in Edinburgh, and went to China in 1882. A series of lantern slides on Christie’s life, including his three decades of missionary service in China, were acquired by the CSWC and included with other collections on the International Mission Photography Archive (IMPA). Producers from Matchlight, which produced Scots in China, found the images on IMPA and contacted our archivist, Kirsty Stewart. Always helpful, she was happy to provide them with the information they needed. They were used in a segment highlighting the work of the Scottish Churches’ China Group and the legacy of Scottish medical missionaries in China.
The following tribute was written by Professor Sanneh’s longtime friend and colleague Professor Andrew F. Walls.
We have learned with sorrow of the passing, after a short illness, of Lamin Sanneh, D Willis James Professor of World Christianity at Yale University, co-founder and joint convener of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on the History of Missions and World Christianity. The Group’s annual conferences, meeting in Yale and Edinburgh alternately, have been an important feature of the life of our Centre.
Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society, University of Kent
25th of February to the 1st of March
This training programme is available for doctoral students registered at any higher education institution in the UK/EU and abroad. It is based on previous training developed by the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society, funded by the AHRC, which led to the development of the Religion Methods website, and aims to provide students with a core training in fieldwork approaches to the study of religion.
Studies in World Christianity has sought to bring to the attention of the academy those Christian communities and theologies that have frequently been overlooked. The four articles in this issue deal – in very different ways – with questions of marginality and minority. The first two articles use historical and social-science methods to examine Christian groups in Burma and Jordan that are socially and religiously marginal. The second two articles examine political theologies. One describes the historical development of a theology of justice in war from China that has been overlooked by more prominent Western theological traditions. The other offers a constructive theology that places marginalised people in Australia at the centre of Christology. The articles present no single understanding of marginality: it is a social fact; it is something that Christian belonging can overcome; it is Christ-like; it challenges the majority and the influential; it has caused insights to be overlooked. Nevertheless, these articles, as they inquire into people, places and ideas that have been understudied or neglected, provide new angles on conversion, identity, just war and Christology. (Continue reading Emma Wild-Wood’s introduction here.)
Migration of Christianity, Christianity of Migration
Last week we had the privilege of having Professor Peter Phan, Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, deliver the Cunningham Lectures in the School on the topic: Migration of Christianity, Christianity of Migration. The topic of migration is quite timely in today’s political discourse. Whether we speak of Syrian refugees in Europe or Central Americans being stopped at the US-Mexican border, with parents separated from children, it is hard not to encounter news around the so-called ‘migration crisis’. Phan’s lectures, however, argued that migration should not be disregarded as the latest left-wing fad, but deeply essential to Christianity and the Christian message. Continue reading →
Professor Brian Stanley, director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, was recently interviewed about his new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, by Professor Crawford Gribbon of Queen’s University Belfast. Click here to listen.