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Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 19:30

The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao

Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer

Luxembourg Embassy, Residence
Dongcheng District, 21 Nei Wu Bu Jie


BIS events are open to foreign passport holders only.
All BIS events are off-the-record.
Photography, filming and recording are not permitted.

Non-members welcome for a single lecture fee of RMB 60;
students with valid ID RMB 30. 

Membership desk open 7:00 pm for 7:30 pm lecture,
no reservations necessary.

For inquiries on the day of the event, from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm, please call 1324 151 4978.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson will give BIS an exclusive talk about his new book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao. Hot off the press, it was published in April and is the culmination of a six-year research project about one of the world's great spiritual revivals. The book looks at why, after a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches and mosques, as well as cults, sects and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty: uncertainty over what it means to be Chinese, and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is still searching for new guideposts.




Ian Johnson has spent over half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, first as a student in Beijing from 1984 to 1985, and then in Taipei from 1986 to 1988. He later worked as a newspaper correspondent in China, from 1994 to 1996 with Baltimore's The Sun and from 1997 to 2001 with The Wall Street Journal.


In 2009, Johnson returned to China, where he writes features and essays for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, National Geographic and other publications. He teaches undergraduates at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, where he also runs a fellowship program. In addition, he formally advises a variety of academic journals and think tanks on China, such as the Journal of Asian Studies, the Berlin-based think tank Merics and New York University's Center for Religion and Media.


He was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won in 2001 for his coverage of China. He has also won two awards from the Overseas Press Club, and an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017, he won Stanford University's Shorenstein Journalism Award for his body of work covering Asia.


Souls of China is Johnson’s third book; his other books are on civil society and grassroots protest in China (Wild Grass, 2004) and Islamism and the Cold War in Europe (A Mosque in Munich, 2010).