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Prof. André Laliberté, PhD

Senior Research Fellow


Areas of interest

  • religious diversity in East Asian democracies
  • legal pluralisms in the Chinese cultural realm
  • religions and welfare regimes in East Asia

Multiple secularities in Chinese societies: religions in the shaping of welfare regimes

Although ostensibly promoting secularism in their political order, states in contemporary Chinese societies have made considerable efforts to shape their religious landscape to serve a wide range of policy objectives. My research programme focuses on welfare policies, which face enormous challenges as these societies face the problem of ageing, and in the case of China, a skewed sex ratio at birth that favours boys over girls. Proposed solutions to address these demographic challenges, in the context of limited state provision of social services, rely on promoting ideologies that see the family as the ideal institution to care for elderly people. This major cultural shift, underway early in all Chinese societies, naturalises reliance on the family for elderly care to such an extent that analysts of East Asian welfare regimes have written about a Confucian welfare state, or welfare orientalism. 

In China, the increasingly overt state promotion of Confucianism as cultural heritage, contrasts with a century of campaigns to eliminate its influence. In Taiwan and Hong Kong, the official support to Confucianism, underway earlier, is more muted and subtle, and mediated through the promotion of popular beliefs as heritage. Adding to this complexity, in all Chinese societies, the state often relies on religious institutions to assist in the provision of social services to vulnerable populations that cannot benefit from family support, or whose marginal status in the market economy excludes them from the benefit of welfare regimes with an institutionalised bias towards the productive elements of society. Recent research shows the ways in which different models of welfare states in Western Europe owe their institutional shape to various forms of religious configurations. Recent scholarship has pursued this matter outside the Western world and looked at the complexity of relations between religious actors and states in the delivery of social services and the promotion of development. However, the literature on the evolution of welfare regimes in non-Western, post-socialist and post-colonial societies remains largely silent on the role of religion. My research programme seeks to amend this further by exploring societies influenced by Chinese traditions. The conceptual and terminological differences between Chinese and Western societies are not limited to the categories of religion (宗教zongjiao) and secularism (世俗shisu): this also affects the nature of social policy (社会政策shehui zhengce), the welfare state (福利国家fuli guojia), and philanthropy/charity (慈善cishan).



Visiting Professor, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada) 


Research Fellow, Societies-Religions-Secularisms Institute, National Center for Scientific Research, Paris (France)

2010 - present

Full Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa (Canada)


Research Fellow, Center on Religion and Chinese Society, Purdue University, West Lafayette (USA) 


Visiting Professor-Scholar, Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Hong Kong University (China) 


Visiting Scholar, Public Policy and Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington DC, (USA)

​2008 - 2010

Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, Ottawa University

​2003 - 2007

Associate Professor, Political Science, UQAM, Montréal (Canada)

​2000 - 2002

 Assistant Professor, Political Science, Ottawa University (Canada)


Ph.D., University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada)

Relevant Publications

  • Laliberté, André. “Geopolitics of Buddhism.” forthcoming 2017.
  • Laliberté, André. “The Pluralization of the Religious Field in Taiwan and Its Impact on China,” in Taiwan’s Impact on China: Why Soft Power Matters More than Economic or Political Inputs. Edited by Steve Tsang. London: Palgrave-McMillan, 2017.
  • Laliberté, André. “Engaging with a Post-Totalitarian State: Buddhism Online in China,” in Religion and the Media in China: Insights and Case Studies from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Edited by Stefania Travagnin, 129–50. New York, London: Routledge, 2016.
  • Laliberté, André. “Religion and Politics,” in Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Taiwan. Edited by Gunter Schubert, 326–41. London, New York: Routledge, 2016.
  • Laliberté, André. “Managing Religious Diversity in China: Contradictions of Imperial and Foreign Legacies.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 45/4 (2016): 495–519.
  • Laliberté, André. “Religions and Philanthropy in China since 1978,” in The Modern Chinese Religion: Value Systems in Transformation. Edited by Vincent Goossaert, Jan Keily, and John Lagerwey, 613–48. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
  • Laliberté, André. “Religion and Development in China,” in The Routledge Handbook of Religions and Global Development. Edited by Emma Tomalin, 233–49. London: Routledge, 2015.
  • Laliberté, André. “Religious Philanthropy in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong: The Impact of State Institutional Trajectories.” Asian Journal of Social Sciences, 43/4 (2015): 435–65.
  • Laliberté, André. "The Politicization of Religion by the CCP: A Selective Retrieval.” Asiatische Studien/Etudes asiatiques, 69/1 (2015): 185–211.
  • Laliberté, André. "Legal Pluralism and the Universality of Freedom of Conscience: A Comparative Historical Sociology of the Secular State in the Euro-American and Sinitic Worlds.” Taiwan Human Rights Journal, 3/1 (2014): 25–52.
  • Berman, Bruce, Rajeev Bhargava, and André Laliberté, eds. Secular States and Religious Diversity. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013.
  • Laliberté, André. “Something Got Lost in Translation: From ‘Secularism’ to ‘Separation between Politics and Religion’ in Taiwan,” in Secular States and Religious Diversity. Edited by Bruce Berman, Rajeev Bhargava, and André Laliberté, 207–31. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013.
  • Berman, Bruce, Rajeev Bhargava, and André Laliberté. “Introduction: Globalization, Secular States, and Religious Diversity,” in Secular States and Religious Diversity. Edited by Bruce Berman, Rajeev Bhargava, and André Laliberté, 1–25. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013.
  • Laliberté, André. “The Five Worlds of Religious Establishment in Taiwan,” in Varieties of Religious Establishment. Edited by Lori Beaman and Winnifred Sullivan, 147–63. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2013.
  • Laliberté, André. “Lessons from the Management of Religious Diversity in Chinese Societies: A Diversity of Approaches to State Control,” in Multiculturalism and Religious Identity. Edited by Lori Beaman and Sonia Sikka, 120–48. Montreal; Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013.
  • Laliberté, André. "Buddhist Charities and China’ Social Policy: An Opportunity for Alternate Civility?” Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 158 (April-June 2012): 95–117.
  • Laliberté, André, guest ed. "The State and Religion in China: Buddhism, Christianity, and the Catholic Church." Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 40/2 (2011).
  • Laliberté, André. "Religion and the State in China: The Limits of Institutionalization.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 40/2 (2011): 3–15.
  • Laliberté, André. "Buddhist Revival under State Watch.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 40/2 (2011): 107–34.
  • Laliberté, André. “‘Beliefs’ and ‘Religion’: Categorizing Cultural Distinctions among East Asians,” in How Public Institutions Assess Identity. Edited by Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka, 215–37. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011.
  • Laliberté, André. “Contemporary Issues in State-Religion Relations,” in Chinese Religious Life. Edited by David Palmer, Glenn Shive, and Philip Wickeri, 191–208. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Laliberté, André, guest ed. "La théorie de la sécularisation revisitée à travers la Chine contemporaine/A New Take on Secularization Theory through Contemporary China." Social Compass, 56/3 (2009).
  • Laliberté, André. "Entre désécularisation et resacralisation: Bouddhistes laïcs, temples et organisations philanthropiques en Chine.” Social Compass, 56/3 (2009): 345–61.
  • Laliberté, André. "The Regulation of Religious Affairs in Taiwan: From State Control to Laisser-faire?” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 2/1 (2009): 53–84.
  • Laliberté, André. "The Political Consequences of Religious Revival in the People’s Republic of China.” St-Anthony’s International Review, 3/2 (2008): 34–49.
  • Laliberté, André. The Politics of Buddhist Organizations in Taiwan, 1989-2003: Safeguarding the Faith, Building a Pure Land, Helping the Poor. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2006.
  • Laliberté, André. “Religious Change and Democratization in Postwar Taiwan: Mainstream Buddhist Organizations and the Kuomintang, 1947–1996,” in Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society. Edited by Philip Clart and Charles B. Jones, 158–85. Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press, 2003.