Luce Fellows
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Duke Divinity School Professors J. Kameron Carter and Xi Lian have been named Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology for 2015-16. The two were selected for a year-long fellowship to conduct creative and innovative theological research.

Carter, associate professor of theology and black church studies, and Lian, professor of world Christianity, were among the six scholars chosen by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.

The Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology program funds research that contributes to theological inquiry and provides leadership in theological scholarship. It emphasizes the interdisciplinary character of theological scholarship and education, and addresses the needs of the academy, faith communities, and society. Fellows present their findings at an annual conference, and in scholarly and popular journals.

During the fellowship, Carter will research Christianity’s “postracial blues” in a project exploring the new terms of entanglement between race and theology, terms made most visible recently in connection with current events of racial violence and injustice. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter registers the precarity of black and brown life under current postracial conditions. Carter will analyze what the postracial is and diagnose its relationship to church and theology in the interest of extricating the church from postracial thinking. His project also aims to articulate new possibilities of sociability, of non-exclusionary life together, modes of gathering, belonging and being with each other that disrupt both Christianity’s and modern society’s postracial thinking, which has recirculated racial hierarchies through postracial denial and practices of division.

Meanwhile, Lian’s project will be to produce a critical biography of Lin Zhao (1932–1968), a Dietrich Bonhoeffer-like figure in Chinese Christianity whose faith led her to publicly oppose what she called the slavery of Chinese communism during the most radical phase of Mao’s rule. Incarcerated as a political dissident, Lin produced numerous prison writings (essays, poems, letters, and a play) against communist rule that were often written in her own blood and while chained. She was repeatedly tortured and executed in 1968 at the height of the Cultural Revolution.