5:30 PM17:30

Response: AAR Panel Disaster and Calamity in Chinese Religions from the Medieval to the Modern Era

Chinese Religions Unit

Theme: Disaster and Calamity in Chinese Religions from the Medieval to the Modern Era

Jessey Choo, Rutgers University, Presiding

Saturday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM

Hilton Bayfront-Sapphire D (Fourth Level)

Most religious systems have found need to address how breakdowns in cosmic and human order bring disaster and calamity, thus generating meaning out of suffering and violence. In the Chinese religious context, disasters are symptomatic of change in the moral-physical cosmos, a singular continuum encompassing both human and celestial affairs. Calamities become transformative occasions, remaking an evil world into something new. The justifiable punishment of the wicked, the blessed survival of the faithful, and the promise of a better future are all central to discourses on disaster. This panel presents four perspectives on such discourses: three presentations each focus on an historical era from medieval to modern China, followed by a respondent who, in reflecting on the papers, also will provide theoretical context. Arguing that cataclysmic discourses were foundational to Chinese religious systems, the panelists explore innovative religious perspectives developed by the faithful in response to real historical disasters.

April Hughes, Boston University

Disaster and Calamity in Medieval China

Katherine Alexander, University of Colorado

Disaster and Calamity in Early Modern China

Gregory Adam Scott, University of Manchester

Disaster and Calamity in Modern China

Responding: James A. Benn, McMaster University

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