Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Mark McLeister

Lecturer in Chinese

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Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Christianity in contemporary China: Protestant identity, church-state interactions, religious policy

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Sheffield
Negotiating Policy and Practice: A Micro-Level Analysis of Three-Self Churches in a Coastal Chinese City
Master of Science, University of Sheffield
Chinese Communist Party Rule as Political Religion: A Critical Analysis
Master of Arts, University of St Andrews
Rites of Passage: Growing Up in Inverness

Professional Qualifications

Cambridge/RSA Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults, CELTA


Dr Mark McLeister was appointed as Lecturer in Chinese Studies in 2015 after first joining taking  up the post of Senior Teaching Fellow in 2012 before progressing to Early Career Fellow in 2013.

Mark completed his first MA in Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews in 2000 before taking up a position for a Chinese NGO developing education programmes. 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 in 2013. His PhD research was an ethnographic account of church-state interactions in contemporary China. Mark's teaching at the University of Edinburgh focuses on contemporary Chinese society, modern Chinese history, translation and research skills.

Mark has published on church-state interactions at the local level in China. He is currently working on turning his PhD thesis into a monograph and as part of this is in the process of securing a publisher. Mark is also preparing several articles for publication related to Protestantism in China (which have already been presented at conferences).

Research Interests

Dr McLeister's PhD explored the interactions between Protestant Three-Self (TSPM)-affiliated churches and the local state. He adopted the theory of symbiosis to conceptualise the relationship between Three-Self churches and the local state, providing a framework which rejects over-simplified notions of state control of religion or religious resistance to the state. He argues that informal channels created through symbiotic interactions provide space for churches to conduct officially-prohibited religious activities.

His 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, he is interested in Protestant identities in Chinese society Chinese and Pentecostalism in the Asian context.

Current research projects focus on the idiom of the family within Chinese Protestantism. Plans for future research include exploring the issue of Protestant identity in relation to the invention/recycling/borrowing of rituals and traditions from other religious traditions at the local level.

Research activities & awards

  1. Chinese Law and Government (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial activity

  2. “Taking Jesus out of the Church”: Multi-faceted Protestant Engagement with ‘Society’

    Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

  3. China’s Economy and Human Rights

    Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Schools engagement

View all (4) »

Research projects

  1. Field Trip

    Project: Funded ProjectResearch

View all (1) »

ID: 7395295