SLU’s Center for Intercultural Studies will host a talk, “Of Opium, Religion, and Colonial Interculturality: China, Japan and the 19th Century Arrival of Monotheism,” from 3 to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, in Room 124, Center for Global Citizenship.
Filippo Marsili, Ph.D., will give the talk which focuses on the arrival of Western concepts of “religion” as China and Japan encountered Europeans. China and Japan, in their languages, did not have terms that could translate the English "Religion" before their encounters with the West. By the nineteenth century, these East Asian civilizations had already developed several ritual traditions that focused on spiritual growth, nature, the world of the spirits, ancestors and afterlife.
However, it was only in the wake China's defeat in the Opium Wars (1839 - 1860) and Commodore Perry's expeditions to Japan (1852 and 1854) that Chinese and Japanese reformers began to develop unitary conceptions of the sacred that could foster ethnic identity and serve nation-building purposes. This talk explores the development of notions of a "State Religion" in China and Japan, as a reaction to colonialist intrusions.