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Rediscovering Chinese Religion and Contemporary China

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Chapter Summary

During the 1960s, several Leiden students became interested in contemporary China and Erik Zürcher was pivotal in institutionalising this interest, which fitted in with his own research focus on the cultural interaction between China and the great religious cultures of Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the almost religious ideology of Communism. Zürcher became skilled in Chinese calligraphy, proof of which can be found in the first edition of The Buddhist Conquest, in which all characters were written by Zürcher himself. During the 1960s, he analysed communism in terms of his enduring academic interest in how Chinese society and culture adopted foreign systems of thought and produced manuals for his students. In 1969, his incessant lobbying resulted in the establishment of a well-endowed "Documentation Centre for Contemporary China", after which he soon left the study of communist China to the centre's new appointees.

Keywords: Buddhism; Christianity; Communism; contemporary China; Erik Zürcher; Leiden University



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