The meetings included discussions of the history of Taiwanese religions with leading scholars. Prof. Chen Yuh-Neu from the Department of History at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, presented the paper “Monks fled from the Mainland China to Taiwan after the War, and the Changes of Taiwanese Buddhism.” Prof. Tam Wai Lun, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at CUHK presented on “Eternity in Changes—Dislocation, Sense of Belonging and Religion in Post-War Taiwanese Society.”
The visiting scholars from the various research teams participated in a seminar in Tucson organized around presentations of the various centers’ research agendas and further conversations about the four selected texts. This format develops a dialogue that grows increasingly comparative as the seminar progresses through the full set of research agendas and readings.
RelSec officially kicks off with a public forum, designed as a conversation between internationally distinguished humanities scholars Janet Jakobsen and Mayfair Yang at the University of Arizona
The work of Simon Critchley (New School, New York) covers many directions topics and dimensions, from exploring the ethical dimensions of the work of Levinas and Derrida in the beginning of his career, to an interaction with the literary work of Samuel Beckett. Critchley has also been a provocative interlocutor of such philosophers as Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou. Among his recent exploits is Faith of the Faithless (2012), an exploration of political theology and its value for thinking through notions of political belonging.
The conference aimed at exploring various perspectives to different religions. A roundtable session entitled “Religion and Identity from Comparative Perspectives” contributed to the RelSec research. We invited Prof. Kung Lap Yan and Prof. Xueyu from the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Prof. Lu Pengzhi, visiting professor of CUHK, Prof. Lin Chang-kuan from Department of Arabic Language and Culture, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, and Prof.
Prof. Bin Wong gave a speech on “Contemporary Consequences of Path Dependent Changes in Relations of Political Authority and Religion in China and Europe: A Millennial Perspective on Problems of Political Belongings”. In the lecture, Prof. Wong examined the roles of religion and secular ideas and institutions in creating commitments of political belonging in four world regions—China, Europe, Middle East, the United States by a comparative approach.
Saba Mahmood presents her work on the book Azazeel (a character from the Hebrew Bible usually taken to mean 'scapegoat', or 'fallen angel/demon') by Youssef Ziedan (published in 2008). The book Azazeel led to a controversy after its publication for its alleged blasphemic content. This lecture continues Mahmood's interest for the way in which criticism, and the perceived secularity of freedom of speech relate to religiously inspired notions of blasphemy.