Confucius Institue Vilniaus Universiteto Konfucijaus institutas

Vilnius University Confucius Institute invites all those who are interested in religiosities and religions in Chinese culture to attend public lectures delivered by Prof. Geir Sigurðsson.

Geir Sigurðsson - Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Iceland. The author of “Confucian Propriety and Ritual Learning: A Philosophical Interpretation”. His research interests focus on Chinese and comparative philosophy, in particular Confucianism and Daoism.

The Chinese cultural region offers a fascination spectrum of different religions and religiosities, organized as well as spontaneous, indigenous as well as adopted and adapted. This series of four lectures introduces selective features of Chinese cultural religiosities, and addresses questions such as:
• What sort of features distinguish Chinese religions or religiosities from those belonging to the Judeo-Christian tradition?
• How have religious movements fared in Chinese society throughout the ages and in modernity?
• What foreign religions have managed to establish themselves in the Chinese cultural area and how?

The individual lecture topics are as follows:

1. Chinese ‘Religiosities’ and the Changing Status of Religious Movements in China’s Recent History.

November 13th. Tuesday 18.30 

This introductory lecture introduces some of the ‘peculiarities’ of Chinese religions, i.e. ‘peculiarities’ from the point of view of Western cultures that tend to understand religion as rigorously organized communities of monotheistic worship of a transcendental deity. It will be proposed that using the term ‘religiosities’ may in many cases be more appropriate in the Chinese case than the more usual ‘religion’. The lecture will also address the complex historical relationships between states and religious movements in the Chinese cultural realm.

2. ‘Popular’ or ‘Diffused’ Religion in China. 

November 15th. Thursday 18.30

Sensibilities that may arguably be termed ‘religious’ can be found all over Chinese society. They manifest themselves in the sacred nature of families, reverence for ancestors and family lineage, the constant quest for self-transformation and not least in complex and somewhat fluid symbolic structures expressing the desire for luck, success and longevity. While ubiquitous but certainly gradient in terms of earnestness in Chinese everyday living, these culminate in the semi-systematic religious movements that are, among other terms, referred to as ‘popular’ or ‘diffused’ religions, whose curious relationship with other more established religions in China will also be addressed.

3. Buddhism’s Quiet Partner: Daoism and Its Current Revival in China.

November 27th. Tuesday 18.30

Since the opening of China in the 1980‘s, religions have been enjoying a rather steep comeback. This applies also to Daoism, a philosophical/religious stream(s) of thought that can be traced all the way back to at least the early Warring States Period in 4th century BCE, although a religious or rather a ‘practicing’ movement based on the early teachings was not formed until the 2nd century CE. In this lecture, we shall introduce these teachings briefly and attempt to assess the status of organized Daoist practices in contemporary China.

4. Successful Outsiders? Imported Religions in the Chinese Cultural Sphere. 

November 29th. Thursday 18:30

In its long history, China was infiltrated by a number of foreign religious movements, the earliest being Buddhism, followed by Nestorian Christianity, Islam, Manicheism and later both Catholic and Protestant Christianity. What remains of these religions in contemporary China? How have they assimilated themselves with Chinese culture? And what can be expected of their further development on Chinese soil?

Venue: Vilnius University Confucius Institute, Konfucijaus didžioji auditorium (M.K. Čiurlionio g. 21, II korpusas, VU Chemijos ir geomokslų fakulteto kiemelyje). 

Lectures will be held in English!