Mark McLeister

Lecturer in Chinese Studies

Background

Dr Mark McLeister was appointed as Lecturer in Chinese Studies in 2015.  He joined the University of Edinburgh in September 2012 as Senior Teaching Fellow and then took up the post of Early Career Fellow in 2013.

Mark trained in Social Anthropology (MA Hons) at the University of St. Andrews (1996-2000) before taking up a position for a Chinese NGO where his work involved teacher-training and education programme development. He then took up a faculty position at a Chinese university, teaching English language, English for Academic Purposes and cross-cultural communication. In 2008, Mark completed an MSc in Chinese Business/International Relations at the University of Sheffield. He completed his PhD in Chinese Studies (University of Sheffield) in 2013. His PhD research was an ethnographic account of church-state interactions in contemporary urban China. Before coming to Edinburgh, Mark lectured and tutored both at the University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds on aspects of contemporary Chinese society, Chinese politics, conducting business in a Chinese context and Chinese language. Mark's teaching at the University of Edinburgh focuses on the ethnography of Chinese society, religion in China, ethnographic methods and research skills.

Mark researches and publishes on local-level church-state interactions and religious policy in China, popular Chinese Christianity and disability and religious identity. He has recently embarked on a new project exploring the practices and meanings of Protestant Christian names in the PRC.

Professional Awards

  • Undergraduate Dissertation, Best Supervisor Award (nomination), Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards, 2018.
  • Best Personal Tutor Award (nomination), Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards, 2018.
  • Undergraduate Dissertation, Best Supervisor Award (nomination), Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards, 2017.
  • Certificate of Contribution, The Amity Foundation 爱德基金会, People’s Republic of China, 2003.
  • Award for Teaching Excellence, Shandong Provincial Education Department, People’s Republic of China, 2001.

Qualifications

Academic qualifications:

PhD, Chinese Studies, University of Sheffield, 2013.

MSc, Chinese Business & International Relations (Distinction), University of Sheffield, 2008.

MA (Hons), Social Anthropology (2.1), University of St. Andrews, 2000.

Other qualifications:

Cambridge/RSA Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), Basil Paterson College (Edinburgh), 2000.

 

Responsibilities & affiliations

External roles

  • External Examiner (Chinese), University of Westminster (2015-2019).
  • Independent Consultant, Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland) (2015-).
  • Independent Consultant, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (October 2018). 

Professional Memberships

  • British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS): member.
  • European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS): member.

Undergraduate teaching

Courses I convene and teach:

The Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives

Modern East Asian History B (China)

Courses I contribute teaching to:

Academic Skills for Asian Studies

Doing Research in Chinese Studies

Chinese Literature 3

Chinese Special Subject 4 (Dissertation)

Postgraduate teaching

Courses I convene and teach:

The Contemporary Chinese Life Cycle: Ethnographic Perspectives

Courses I contribute teaching to:

Research Skills and Methods for Asian Studies 1

Research Skills and Methods for Asian Studies 2

Keywords of Chinese Modernity

Politics and Economics in Post 1978 People’s Republic of China

Taught Postgraduate supervision:

Master of Chinese Studies dissertation

MSc Chinese Society and Cultue dissertation

MSc Translation Studies dissertation

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

I am interested in supervising students on the following topics:

  • Popular/grassroots Christianity in China
  • Pentecostalism in Chinese contexts
  • Religious policy in China
  • Life cycle/life course events in Chinese societies
  • Chinese Christianity/Chinese churches in Scotland
  • Ethnographies of Chinese society

Current PhD students supervised

Huang Yingjie, 'Deconstructing Chinese Online Community: Zhai Culture on Bilibili' (Secondary): https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/yingjie-huang.

Liu Mingxiao, 'The Experience of Cultural Re-adaptation of Chinese Returnee PhD Students from the UK' (Secondary): https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/mingxiao-liu.

Ma Chao, 'Chinese Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in Southern California' (Secondary):.

Peng Ran, 'Smart City and Urban management in China ' (Secondary): https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/phd-student-ran-peng.

Xiao Yao, 'Intersectoral Collaboration in China’s Local Institutional Reform: A Case Study in Food Safety Supervision System Reform' (Secondary): https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/yao-xiao.

Research summary

My PhD explored the interactions between Protestant Three-Self-affiliated ('TSPM') churches and the local state. I argue that informal channels created through symbiotic interactions between churches and local state organs provide space for churches to conduct officially-prohibited religious activities.

My principal research interests include the anthropology of Christianity, interactions between religion and the state in Chinese societies and issues affecting state-society relations in contemporary China. Within these broader fields, my research centres on popular Christianity and Protestant identities in Chinese society, and Pentecostalism in Chinese contexts.

I also have a broad research interest in ethnography and ethnographic methods which I also employ extensively in my own research.

Current research interests

My current research projects focus on the idiom of the family/household within Chinese Protestantism. I am currently working on an article about festivals in Three-Self-affiliated churches and the ritual exchange of groups who perform at festival gatherings. I have also recently embarked on a new project exploring the practices and meanings of Protestant Christian names in the PRC.

Past research interests

I have just finished two research projects. The first was an ethnography of a Deaf Protestant congregation in urban China. The project focused on the intersection between Deaf and Protestant identity and the ways in which this particular congregation challenge the dominant state and societal narratives on disability. The second project was an ethnographic account of how religious authority is established through a particular religious aesthetics in a Three-Self-affiliated Protestant congregation in China.

Knowledge exchange

Consultancy/Advice

  • Advisor, Scottish Churches China Group, (March, 2019).
  • Independent Consultant, Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland) (2015-).
  • Independent Consultant, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (October 2018).

Research activities

View all 23 activities on Research Explorer

View all 22 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

  • ‘Urban Three-Self-Affiliated Congregations and the Rule of Law in the PRC.’ Christianity and the Rule of Law in Chinese Societies, Purdue University, March 29-31, 2019.
  • 'Worship, Technology and Identity: A Hearing-Impaired Protestant Congregation in Urban China.' Yale-Edinburgh Group Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh, June 28-30, 2018.
  • ‘Minimalist Mobility: Urbanising Protestant Congregations in Contemporary China,’ Chinese Religions in the Age of Massive Urbanization, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, June 6-7, 2018 (invited).
  • ‘Protestant Names and Naming Practices in China: An Overview,’ Chinese Families, Christian Families workshop, University of Edinburgh, December 16, 2017.
  • ‘Models of Mobility: Urbanising Protestant Congregations in Contemporary China,’ Rural-urban migration and inclusionary urbanisation in China 中国新型城镇化下的乡城移民与包容性城市发展Jinan University, Guangzhou, July 13-15, 2016 (invited).
  • ‘Sad Eyes, Crooked Crosses in God’s Country: Some Chinese Christian Interpretations of the 2014 Church Demolitions in Zhejiang,’ Conference on Religions and Politics in Contemporary Chinese Societies, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, April 2-4, 2015.
  • ‘Protestant Responses to the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” [三改一拆] Campaign in Zhejiang,’ Asian Religions Network, Works-in-Progress Workshop, University of Edinburgh, February 19, 2015.
  • ‘Dreaming Different Dreams: Popular Christianity, Religious Authority and the State in Contemporary China,’ Sacred Models: Authority and Representation in Asian Religions, Asian Religions Network, University of Manchester, October 31-November 1, 2014 (invited).
  • ‘Festivals, Guests and Hosts in Urban Protestant Congregations,’ Gender and Family in the History of Missions and World Christianity, Yale-Edinburgh Group Meeting, University of Edinburgh, June 26-28, 2014.
  • ‘Chinese Christianity or Chinese Christianities? A Hearing-Impaired Protestant Congregation in Urban China,’ The Glocalisation of Christianity in China, University of Manchester, May 15-16, 2014.
  • ‘State Power, Spirit Power: Official Categories of Religion and Pentecostal-Style Activities in Urban Three-Self Churches in China,’ Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh, February 25, 2014.
  • ‘Appropriating and Negotiating State-defined Religious Space in a Chinese City,’ Power, Identity and the Authoritarian State: Urban Experiences Juxtaposed, the Royal Geographical Society, Imperial College London, August 28-30, 2013.
  • ‘The Local, National and Trans-National Ties of Deaf-Mute Protestant Churches in Urban Huadong,’ Asian Studies Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, October 24, 2012 (invited).
  • ‘Church-state Symbiosis and the Implementation of Religious Policy in Urban Huadong,’ British Association for Chinese Studies Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh, September 7-9, 2011.
  • ‘Inter-generational Interactions and the Expansion of the Protestant Church in Coastal Huadong,’ White Rose East Asia Centre Generations Workshop, University of Leeds, June 21, 2011 (invited).
  • ‘“Patriotic” Pastors and Pliable Policy in Church-State Interactions,’ White Rose East Asia Centre ‘Away Day,’ University of Sheffield, May 11, 2011.
  • ‘Church-State Interactions and the Construction of Religious Policy in a Coastal Chinese City,’ PhD Knowledge Exchange Workshop: Examining the State-Economy-Society Nexus, University of Sheffield, March 3, 2011.
  • ‘Three-Self Protestant Churches, the Local State and Religious Policy Implementation in a Coastal Chinese City,’ Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-Cultural Perspectives, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, January 7-8, 2011 (invited).
  • ‘Conflict or Resistance? The Search for a New Paradigm in the Religion-State Relationship in China,’ China Postgraduate Network Annual Conference, University of Manchester, April 23-24, 2009.

Organiser

Joint East Asian Studies Conference (JEASC), University of Edinburgh, September 4-6, 2019 (co-organiser).

Chinese Families, Christian Families workshop, University of Edinburgh, December 16, 2017.

Memberships:

  • Scottish Churches China Group (SCCG): member.
  • Friends of the Church in China (FCC): member.

Publications:

Talks:

  • ‘Christianity and Naming Practices in the People’s Republic of China: An Overview,’ Tribe Porty Lunchtime Talks, Tribe Porty, Edinburgh, March 21, 2019 (invited).
  • ‘Faith and China: A Year in Review’ (Interview and Q&A session), Scottish Churches’ China Group, Plenary, St Augustine’s URC, Edinburgh, March 12, 2019) (invited).

  • ‘“Taking Jesus out of the Church”: Multi-faceted Protestant Engagement with “Society”,’ Scottish Churches’ China Group, AGM, St Augustine’s URC, Edinburgh, March 10, 2015 (invited).
  • ‘China’s Economy and Human Rights,’ Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh, Modern Studies Department, October 2, 2014 (invited).

Workshops:

  • ‘China and the World in Historical Perspective,’ Modern Studies Association, Scotland, Conference 2015, University of Glasgow, October 31, 2015 (invited).