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Retrieving the Past Glory: Social Memory, Transnational Networks and Christianity in Contemporary China

Jifeng Liu defended his thesis on 2 February 2017

Jifeng Liu
02 February 2017
Leiden Repository

Jifeng Liu’s dissertation is an ethnography of Protestant Christianity in contemporary Xiamen that illustrates the need to comprehend how Christians or members of Christianity-influenced communities understand their own past within the framework of the study of Chinese Christianity. By closely examining how the government, churches, grassroots groups and individuals attempt to make narratives revolve around the Christian past, this research reveals the dynamic and ongoing interactions between different actors. This study departs from the traditional dichotomous approach of state domination versus church resistance. Moreover, it reflects on the over-emphasis on the negotiating ability of the Christian elite and argues that the role of the state in its interaction with Christianity should not be downplayed in the current situation. Jifeng’s research also examines the recent changes in the transnational networks. It points out that, after decades of isolation from the outside world, the Xiamen church is now reencountering the world Christian community; whether or not the Chinese state permits, Chinese Christians frequently interact with and in the future will integrate more actively into the world Christian community. Accordingly, it has revealed the importance of reconsidering the interplay between international Christian agents and local traditions in the study of Christianity in China today.

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