International Conference on the Revival of Confucianism in China to be Held at UB

Scholars consider its affect on Chinese democracy, modernity, morality, pluralism, culture

Release Date: April 20, 2012


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Twenty-four noted scholars in philosophy, history and theology from across Asia, Europe and North America will gather at the University at Buffalo April 27-28 for "Beyond New Confucianism: Confucian Thought for Twenty-first Century China," a conference that will examine the current revival of Confucianism and the roles this ancient philosophical tradition plays in contemporary Chinese culture.

All conference panels are free and open to the public, and will be held in the Honors College Colloquium Room, Oscar Silverman Library, 107 Capen Hall, UB North Campus.

UB students, staff and faculty members, and members of the broader Buffalo community, are invited to attend.

The revival of Confucian thought, commonly known as "New Confucianism" (Xin Rujia), has been an important part of Chinese cultural life since the 1980s.

The conference was the brainchild of Tze-ki Hon, PhD, professor of history at the SUNY College at Geneseo, and Kristin Stapleton, PhD, associate professor of history at UB and director of the university's Asian Studies Program.

"New Confucianism is a multifaceted movement that arose as scholars and others reflected on the value of the Confucian philosophical and political traditions in the context of China's integration into the neo-liberal global economy," says Hon.

"Participants in this movement include philosophers and scholars in several fields, as well as teachers, social activists and media personalities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and in Chinese communities around the world," he says.

Despite its complex origins and global scope, New Confucianism tends to be understood narrowly in the West as a philosophical/religious enterprise with a strong emphasis on self-cultivation and moral metaphysics.

The conference goal, Stapleton says, is to broaden the scope of the study of New Confucianism by focusing on its political, social and cultural agendas. Grounded in a multidisciplinary approach and a global perspective, this event aims to shed new light on the current revival as it becomes part of the social and cultural fabric of 21st century China and the world.

For additional details about the conference program, visit contact Bruce Acker at or 716-645-0763, or go to

On Friday, April 27, panels will address "New Confucianism and Chinese Modernity" (10 a.m. to noon), "New Confucianism and Political Change" (1-2:30 p.m.) and "New Confucianism and Pluralistic Society" (3-5 p.m.).

On Saturday, April 28, panels will address "New Confucianism and Morality" (9-10:30 a.m.) and "New Confucianism, Mass Media, and the Culture Industry" (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

"We are excited to have many leading scholars of diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds coming together at UB to consider this very significant issue," says Stapleton, adding that a number of conference participants are internationally recognized for their research and publications on classical and contemporary Confucian thought.

Among the most prominent conference participants are Daniel Bell, PhD, professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and author of the acclaimed "China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society" (Princeton University Press 2010); Tongdong Bai, PhD, of Fudan University (Shanghai) and author of "China: The Middle Way of the Middle Kingdom," forthcoming this year from Zed Books; Stephen Angle, PhD, of Wesleyan University and author of "Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy" (Oxford University Press 2009); and John Berthrong, PhD, associate professor of comparative theology at Boston University and the author of many books on Asian and Western belief systems, including "Transformations of the Confucian Way" (Westview 1998).

In addition to Stapleton, UB faculty involved in the conference are Junhao Hong, PhD, professor of communication, research associate of the Fairbank Center for China Studies at Harvard University and author of a number of books and articles on Chinese culture and media; Roger Des Forges, PhD, professor of history at UB and author of several books on Chinese historiography, history, society and culture; James Beebe, PhD, associate professor of philosophy, an epistemologist and specialist in the philosophy of religion; and Buddhism scholar Mark Nathan, PhD, assistant professor of history and Asian studies at UB.

Other SUNY faculty participants include Confucianism expert Zu-yan Chen, professor of Asian and Asian-American studies, director of the Confucius Institute at Binghamton University and coeditor of the forthcoming "Confucius: Eternal Sage" (Long River Press 2012), and David Elstein, PhD, assistant professor of philosophy at the SUNY College at New Paltz, where he specializes in Asian philosophy and comparative philosophy.

"Beyond New Confucianism" is sponsored by the Confucius Institute at UB, with support from the SUNY College at Geneseo, the UB Humanities Institute, the UB Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, the UB Department of Philosophy and the UB Asian Studies Program.

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