The politics of Islam in contemporary China

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Religion 385

Religion in Chinese Society

Fall 2022

Research Paper Assignment


In this exercise, you will examine materials outside of the regular course readings on a topic of your own interest related to Chinese religion, either in contemporary times or historically. The following are topics you can choose for which we have appropriate library resources:

  • The role of a famous god(dess) in Chinese history (e.g., Guan Gong, Guanyin, the Monkey King)
  • The relationship of Buddhism to popular religion in imperial China
  • The role of fate and fortune in Chinese religion
  • The role of Buddhism in Tibetan religious history
  • The influence of Islam on Chinese history in pre-modern times
  • The role of mediumship and divination in traditional Chinese healing
  • T’ai-Chi (taijiquan) and its relationship to Daoist cosmology
  • Religious aspects of Chinese secret societies
  • Religious traditions among Chinese living overseas (e.g., in Malaysia, the United States, Europe)
  • The influence of communism on the direction of Chinese religion
  • Censorship of Religion in the State-run Chinese media
  • The rise and fall of qigong groups in post-Mao China
  • The difference between legal and “house church” forms of Christianity in contemporary China
  • The politics of Islam in contemporary China
  • The rise / revival of Confucianism in contemporary China

Or you may select a topic of your own choice related to the course themes.

Your topics are due by e-mail no later than Monday, September 19 by the time of class.  You should wait for me to approve your topic before beginning any research.  You are encouraged to talk earlier about your ideas for a topic by e-mail or by coming to office hours.


The research paper must be a minimum of ten pages (8½ x 11, default margins, 12-point font, and double-spaced) including footnotes / endnotes (if any) and bibliography.  Papers not adhering to these requirements will be returned for revision.  All papers, regardless of page length, must also be long enough to explore the research argument and analysis in depth (this is expected to be narrower than your original stated research topic). You must have comprehensively researched most available materials pertaining to your narrowed research argument and analysis. Your bibliography must list a minimum of six academic sources. Academic sources means books published with academic publishing houses or articles published in academic journals. To be considered “academic,” sources must be “peer-reviewed,” i.e., read and fact-checked by other scholars in the author’s area of research specialization prior to publishing. On Sept. 19, a guide for finding scholarly sources will be discussed in class. If you feel that your topic warrants the use of non-scholarly sources, please check with the instructor. In certain cases, use of non-scholarly sources may be permitted. With certain topics, use of firsthand social scientific research may also be permitted.

You are expected to develop an original argument or analysis related to the research material which should be stated clearly at the beginning of your paper and carried throughout in a coherent fashion, considering your research as evidence and responding to possible counter-arguments.  While most of the sources referred to in your paper should be from your own research, you are encouraged to compare your findings and analysis to the regular course readings and class discussions.


All work presented must be your own unless otherwise acknowledged.  This does not mean, however, that you can not ask others for suggestions.  It is also acceptable to have your paper proofread by either the tutoring and study center or any other person not enrolled in this course before turning it in, provided that the feedback you receive is general in nature and that the final paper is completely your own intellectual product.  If your native language is not English, you are strongly advised to get proofreading help. Of course, you are also encouraged to come to see me at any stage with any questions/problems about your research.

Please email your papers as Microsoft Word documents, not as pdfs.

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