(1) The project will conduct the first systematic, multi-case study of contemporary transnational religious circulations and influences between China and the rest of Eurasia. This will combine both a macro-level mapping of the broad routes of religious circulation, and specific studies related to each major region and religious tradition, focusing on routes, borders, and urban hubs. The book, articles, workshops, conferences and Knowledge Exchange resources produced by the project will create a critical mass of scholarship that will become a foundational reference for reshaping the fields of the anthropological, sociological and historical study of religion in China and Asia, and the geographical and geopolitical study of Asia.
(2) It will contribute to the transformation of Asian Studies by enriching the growing field of studies of inter-Asian connections and circulations, bringing religion firmly into conceptualizations of “Asia as method,” breaking down the methodological nationalism that has led to artificial boundaries and ignorance between the social scientific study of religion in different Asian countries and of different religious traditions. The project will especially bring relations between China and the Islamic world into these new conceptualizations of Asia. It will also break out of a paradigm of China Studies that has imagined China as a self-contained entity and, in the field of religious circulations, primarily concerned with the inward diffusion of Christianity from the West.
(3) It will develop new theoretical approaches to the study of religious circulation and change by drawing on recent conceptual innovations in the study of infrastructures and mobility, which have, until now, rarely been employed in the study of religion. These theoretical contributions will have general applications and impact in the sociology, anthropology, history and geography of religion, beyond the fields of China and Asian Studies.
(4) It will develop critically needed expertise for Hong Kong, China and Asia on the religious dimensions of Eurasian society, culture and politics and their implications for relations with the Chinese world, with applications in the fields of public policy, education, and intercultural and interreligious understanding.