Daoist Studies is a professional field. Members are most often trained in Sinological
institutes or departments of East Asian languages and literatures and of religious
studies. In addition to proficiency in classical and modern Chinese, graduate study,
which usually results in a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), includes developing reading
ability in English, French and Japanese as well as more comprehensive interpretative
and theoretical knowledge. The translation of Daoist literature (including critical
reflection on “translation”) and textual analysis remain the dominant interpretative
approach, but more scholars are becoming versed in comparative religious studies,
ethnography and material culture studies. Members of the professional guild of Daoist
Studies are those educators and researchers committed to understanding the Daoist
religious tradition in as accurate, informed and nuanced of a way as possible. For
this, knowledge of Chinese culture, history, religion and society as well as of cross-cultural
and comparative dimensions of religion as a larger global phenomenon is essential.
With respect to modern Western appropriations, adaptations and transmissions, one
must understand the relevant cultural and religious histories, including colonialist,
missionary, and Orientalist legacies. The principle of self-identification is only
sufficient as an initial methodology.
American Academy of Religion (AAR). Founded in 1909, AAR is the world’s largest association
of academics who research or teach topics related to religion. Of particular interest
for those involved in Daoist Studies is the Daoist Studies Group and the Chinese
Religions Group. Emphasis is placed on comparative and theoretically-informed approaches
to Daoist Studies.
Publication: Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR)
American Oriental Society (AOS). Established in 1842, AOS is the oldest learned society
in the United States devoted to a particular field of scholarship. Its area of emphasis
is Asian culture, history, language, religion, and society. Many prominent scholars
of Daoism present at its annual meeting. It has been especially important for first
and second-generation scholars.
Publication: Journal of the American Oriental Society (JAOS)
Association for Asian Studies (AAS). Established in 1941, AAS is a scholarly, non-political,
non-profit professional association open to all persons interested in Asia. It is
the largest society of its kind, with approximately 7,000 members worldwide. Emphasis
is placed on Sinological approaches to Daoist Studies.
Publication: Journal of Asian Studies (JAS)
Daoist Studies Website (DSW). Established in 2000 by Professor James Miller, the
Daoist Studies Website is a collaborative internet resource for the academic study
of Daoism. It contains a directory of self-identified scholars of Daoism. Although
overly inclusive, it provides a sense of some members of the field, including their
areas of concentration, academic affiliations and publications.
Nihon dôkyô gakkai 日本道教學會(Japanese Association for the Study of Daoism). This is
the preeminent Japanese academic society focusing on the study of Daoism.
Publication: Tôhô shûkyô 東方宗教 (Eastern Religions)
Society for the Study of Chinese Religions (SSCR). SSCR is one of the major academic
associations dedicated to the study of Chinese religions. It has an annual meeting
in concert with those of the Association for Asian Studies and, beginning in 2007,
the American Academy of Religion.
Daoism: Religion, History and Society. Although yet to publish its inaugural issue,
this is a bi-lingual Sinological journal published by the Centre for the Study of
Daoist Culture (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient.
It is one of only two Western-language journals focusing solely on Daoism.
Journal of Chinese Religions(JCR). First published in 1982, this is the annual English-language
Sinological publication of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions. In 1998,
JCR absorbed the earlier Taoist Resources (1989-1997). In terms of Daoism, it primarily
publishes Sinological studies. In recent years, its review section has become increasingly
problematic with respect to balance, neutrality and reliability of evaluation.
Journal of Daoist Studies (JDS). With the inaugural edition published in 2008, this
is an English-language journal published by Three Pines Press. It is one of only
two Western-language journals focusing solely on Daoism. Taking the earlier Taoist
Resources (1989-1997) as its model, it includes both academic and popular articles.
JDS has three main parts: academic articles; forum on contemporary practice, and
news of the field. Academic articles approach Daoism from a variety of interpretative
and theoretical approaches.
Monumenta Serica (MS). First published in 1935, this is the annual English-German
Sinological publication of the Monumenta Serica Institute. In terms of Daoism, it
primarily publishes Sinological studies by European scholars.
Religious Studies Review(RSR). First published in 1975, this is a quarterly review
of publications related to the academic study of religion. It is published by the
Council of Societies for the Study of Religion. Although it published few full-length
review essays on publications related to Daoism, it does provide helpful review notes
on relevant books.
Shijie zongjiao yanjiu 世界宗教研究 (Studies in World Religions). First published in 1994,
this is a Chinese-language journal published by the Institute of World Religions
of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). In terms of Daoism, it primarily
publishes Sinological studies by mainland Chinese scholars.
Tôhô shûkyô東方宗教 (Eastern Religions). First published in 1951, this is the semi-annual
Japanese-language publication of the Nihon dôkyô gakkai 日本道教學會 (Japanese Association
for the Study of Daoism). It primarily publishes Sinological studies of Daoism by
Japanese scholars. The fall issue (even numbers) includes bibliographies of recent
publications in Daoist Studies, though it is often fragmentary and evidences a particular
construction of the field.
T’oung Pao(TP). First published in 1890, this is an English-language Sinological
journal published by Brill Academic Publishers (Netherlands). In terms of Daoism,
it primarily publishes Sinological studies by European scholars.
Zhongguo daojiao 中國道教 (Chinese Daoism). First published in 1998, this is a Chinese-language
journal focusing on Daoism. It is published quarterly by the Chinese Daoist Association.
Although more popular in nature, Zhongguo daojiao does provide glimpses into contemporary
E.J. Brill. One of the foremost academic publishers of Sinological reference works.
Although often prohibitively expensive and highly Sinological, Brill publishes scholarly
monographs of high erudition. Recently published relevant titles include Wu Yun’s
Way (2006) and Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and Self-transformation in Early
Quanzhen Daoism (2007).
Harvard University Press(HUP). Although historically publishing relatively few books
on Daoism, HUP has begun to remedy this omission. Recently published relevant titles
include Daoism and Ecology (2001), To Become a God (2002), and The Taoists of Peking
Routledge. Routledge has recently initiated a Studies in Taoism series. Recently
published relevant titles include Taoism: The Enduring Tradition (2004), Daoism in
History (2006), Explorations in Daoism (2006), and The Encyclopedia of Taoism (2007).
State University of New York Press (SUNY). For over a decade, SUNY Press has been
at the forefront of publishing books on Daoism. Although earlier works tended to
overemphasize “philosophical” aspects of Daoism, many of the most important works
in the field have appeared in SUNY Press’ Chinese Philosophy and Culture series.
Recently published relevant titles include A Chinese Reading of the Daode jing (2003),
Teachings and Practices of the Early Quanzhen Taoist Masters (2004), and The Pristine
Three Pines Press (TPP). TPP is the only press specializing in publications in Daoist
Studies. Although some recent publications are more popular in scope, TPP continues
to publish books of enduring academic value. Recently published relevant titles include
Women in Daoism (2003), Cosmos and Community (2004), Daoist Body Cultivation (2006),
and Divine Traces of the Daoist Sisterhood (2006).
University of California Press (UCP). In addition to its Daoist Classics series,
which currently includes three titles, UC Press also publishes a variety of books
on Daoism. Recently published relevant titles include To Live as Long as Heaven and
Earth (2002), The Victorian Translation of China (2002), The Scripture on Great Peace
(2007), and Ancestors and Anxiety (2007).
University of Hawaii Press (UHP). UHP is one of the foremost publishers of academic
studies of Daoism. Recently published relevant titles include Daoist Identity (2002),
Monastic Life in Medieval China (2003), Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face (2008),
and Chinese Healing Exercises (2008).