Asbury Historian and Web Developer Publishes Article about Christianity in China – Asbury University
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November 28, 2022

Dr. Alex Mayfield, assistant professor of history at Asbury University, co-published a new article about his work with the China Historical Christian Database, an international, multi-institution project which quantifies the history of Christianity in China from 1550 to 1950. His article, “Leaping the Digital Gorge: Datasets, Digital Aesthetics, and the China Historical Christian Database,” was published in the Journal of Digital Humanities 數字人文. This month, Mayfield presented his research findings at the Third Digital Humanities Forum, sponsored by Tsinghua University (China) and the Institute of Literary Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“We live in a time defined by the connections and disruptions of globalization, and many followers of Christ can find the constant swirl of change hard to grasp or even fear-inducing,” Mayfield said, regarding his findings. “If anything, I hope my research illustrates that the Christian movement has always been a communal experiment in intercultural exchange.”

Mayfield received his M.Div. from Boston College and his Ph.D. from Boston University. His research utilizes digital methodologies that enable the reconstruction of historical networks and movements within global Christianity. His current research and teaching interests include global history, Pentecostal and charismatic movements, mission history in East Asia, and the history of colonial Latin America. Mayfield serves as a co-investigator for the China Historical Christian Database: https://chcdatabase.com/.  

“In June, the project released its online platform and our first dataset,” Mayfield said.  “While our first release was already the largest dataset on China’s Christian history in the world, the team is now actively working to expand that data by extracting information from even more sources.”

In addition to working with the China Historical Christian Database, Mayfield is writing a book, slated to be released as part of Baylor University’s World Christianity series.

“The book will tell the story of the development of Pentecostalism in Hong Kong during the first part of the 20th century,” Mayfield said. “More than a local history, the book examines the way religious identity, space, gender, and power affected the growth of the movement in Hong Kong and its relationship with the global movement writ large.”

Mayfield also is writing multiple chapters for various books including The Pentecostal World (Taylor & Francis, in press); The Pandemic & the Holy Spirit: From Lament to Hope and Healing (Oral Roberts University Press, forthcoming); and Chinese Christian Witness: Identity, Creativity and Transmission (Brill, forthcoming). More information about Mayfield’s research may be viewed here: https://www.asbury.edu/about/directory/alex-mayfield/.

The Asbury University Social Science & History Department offers four majors (History, Political Science, Social Studies Grades 8-12, and Sociology) and three minors (History, Political Science, and Sociology). Learn more: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/departments/social-science-history/.