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David Ownby - Critical Thinkers in Religion, Law and Social Theory

Thu, September 13, 2012

David Ownby

University of Ottawa, Simard 125
4:00 - 6:30pm

Title: Religion, Politics and Scholarship in Contemporary China:  Reflections on Researching the Falun Gong

Abstract: In this talk, I will present an informal overview of my research methods and findings based on several years of fieldwork and study of the Falun Gong.  I will further reflect on the challenges of researching a politically charged topic, discussing my interaction with Falun Gong practitioners, Chinese scholars, and Canadian and American journalists and politicians.


David Ownby received his M.A. (Regional Studies—East Asia) and Ph.D. (History and East Asian Languages) from Harvard University, and taught at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, before coming to the Université de Montréal in 1994, where he is Professor of History.  He served as Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal from 2001 to 2011.  His early interests were in the historical origins of Chinese secret societies, and his chief book-length publication on the topic was Brotherhoods and Secret Societies in Early and Mid-Qing China (Stanford University Press 1996).  Subsequently, his interests turned toward the history of religion in modern and contemporary China, and he spent several years studying the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, finally publishing Falun Gong and the Future of China (Oxford 2008).  He is currently working on the biography of Li Yujie, the founder of another Chinese new religious movement.

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