The Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture provides the University of Arizona with a research and outreach center that addresses the renewed role of religion in international politics and in societies across the globe and situates that role in historical perspective. It is essential for the land-grant mission of the University of Arizona to engage the fundamental question of religion's impact on all human societies and cultures. As a public university, the University of Arizona recognizes that a non-sectarian understanding of religion and its role in culture is central to its educational mission, and the Institute provides an opportunity to align this aspect of the UA mission with the pressing realities of our day. 

Upcoming Events

Friday, April 25, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
UA Student Union Copper Room

Religion in modern China, as viewed through the lens of the PRC, is often relegated to a Marxist narrative whereby the role of religion is curtailed by the state in the name of socialist principles. The decline of Marxist ideology in China invites us to revisit the ways in which religious activity was sanctioned in pre-modern China, and question whether the Marxist narrative is distinct, or whether is simply an overlay to long held assumptions in China regarding government policy on the administration of religion. Using Buddhism as a template, the current presentation addresses the roles of Confucian and Buddhist traditions in the formation of Chinese culture based on the administration of Buddhism in China. How, and in what sense, was Buddhism encouraged through government policies? How and why were its activities curtailed? In other words, form the government’s perspective, what were the legitimate roles played by Buddhist institutions and clergy, and what aspects were deemed illegitimate? My comments are built around an inquiry into Zanning’s 贊寧proposals for the role of Buddhism in China, as articulated in his Topical History of the Buddhist Clergy, compiled in the Great Song dynasty (Da Song Seng shilue 大宋僧史略), compiled ca. 1000. I argue that public and private realms were never thought of as distinct in China, but as part of a continuum of harmonious, if sometimes contested terrain where secular and sacred aims met. If the Confucian aim may be regarded in terms of "secularizing the sacred," the Buddhist agenda in China may be thought of in terms of "sacralizing the secular." The role of the state as arbiter of China's multi-ideational traditions is also considered. 

Current News

RelSec Symposium
“Rethinking Secularism”
February 21, 2014
The University of Arizona, Modern Languages Building Rm 451
Featuring Presentations and Discussion by Internationally Distinguished Scholars Akeel Bilgrami, Dilip Gaonkar, Colin Jager, and Radha Radhakrishnan

Friday, February 21, 2014

In the summer the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture became a member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. The Consortium brings together academic organizations like the ISRC from across the United States and is currently increasing its affiliation with similar international bodies. 

Friday, June 28, 2013


April 2, 2013



Tuesday, April 2, 2013