My name is James Miller and I’m Professor of Chinese Studies in the School of Religion at Queen’s University, Canada, cross-appointed to the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and in January 2015 will become acting director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Cultural Studies.
I became fascinated by the study of Daoism when I began to learn classical Chinese language twenty years ago in the UK. Since then I have become a leading interpreter of Daoist religion, through my study of the medieval Chinese religious movement known as The Way of Highest Clarity. Over the past ten years, I have published five books on Chinese religions, with a sixth in preparation. I am committed to maintaining a strong publishing profile, and working with graduates and undergraduates to develop their own research programs and capacities.
More recently, however, I’ve become established as a key scholar of religion and ecology in China. China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and will eclipse the US as the world’s leading economy within a decade. China is experiencing massive economic change and unprecedent environmental devastation. My concern is to understand how China’s traditions, especially Daoism, continue to influence Chinese social imagination about nature and environment and to help develop a Chinese ethic of ecological sustainability. You can also read more about this part of my work on my research blog, sustainable china.
I believe that academic research should be publicly accessible and socially relevant, and I am committed to employing social media and Internet technologies in order to enable people in Canada and across the world to understand how China is transforming the world. The story I want to tell is how China’s entry onto the world stage is having a profound effect not just on the global economy, but on our religious and cultural traditions, and on our way of thinking about nature.
In addition to my publishing, I regularly speak at academic conferences, and give public lectures and media interviews on a wide variety of topics related to religion and culture in China. Media outlets have included the Washington Post, CTV Newsworld, CTV Canada AM, and the Christian Science Monitor. I have given guest lectures all over the world, from China’s Fudan University, to the Australian National University and even the United States Naval War College. I have also consulted on legal matters related to Chinese religions in Canadian society, including preparing expert witness testimony for civil court proceedings.