Religious Pursuits? Chinese International Students Encountering Christianity in Britain

Lin Ma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The increased presence of Chinese international students at British universities has contributed to the diversity of culture and religion on these predominantly secular campuses. While overseas Chinese students who convert to evangelical Christianity have been well-researched in the United States since the 1980s, the role of religion on campuses in Britain remains underexplored. This study aims to understand Chinese overseas students’ religious seekership and their interactions with evangelical Christians in Britain. It makes an original contribution by including evidence from nonconverts. Data from a mixed methodological approach illustrate the attitudes and perceptions of newly-arrived Chinese international students and the subjective reasons underlying their initial seekership in multi-ethnic, English-speaking religious environments. The findings demonstrate permeable boundaries between language, culture, and religion. Crucially, this finding challenges the secular normality on British campuses and the widely assumed lack of interest of Chinese international students in local integration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-420
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Issue number3
Early online date9 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank all my research participants, especially my interviewees for their shared stories. I also thank Paula Surridge, Tariq Modood, and Martin Gainsborough for their feedback on earlier drafts. Anonymous reviewers and the editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion have generously helped to improve this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • ethnic Chinese
  • international students
  • Christian conversion
  • diversity


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