By Penny Barrett, on 4 July 2013
The encounter of Western sciences with religion and with traditional Chinese worldviews has a long history in Chinese studies, or Sinology. Jesuit missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries utilised European astronomy, mathematics and cartography in their attempts to convince the Chinese Imperial court of the superiority of Christianity. In the 20th century, Joseph Needham identified the indigenous philosophy of Daoism as the intellectual fount of natural inquiry in China, although in doing so, he also excluded many of the more religious elements of Daoism. This video clip by Centre associate Michael Stanley-Baker describes new avenues in the historiography of Chinese science and religion, and presents one example from his fieldwork that demonstrates how the discourse of science is being used to legitimise Daoism as a viable counterpart in Chinese visions of modernity. This video was originally prepared for a panel on Science and Religion in the Association for Asian Studies, 2011.