Yale Daily News

At the Yale Divinity School’s annual Bartlett Lecture, Kwok Pui Lan argued that political theory must be rooted in transnational and multicultural sources.

Lan is a professor of systematic theology at the Emory University Candler School of Theology. She gave a lecture entitled “Toward a Political Theology of Postcoloniality.” 

“From responses to COVID-19 to the global refugee crisis to climate change, a political theology of post-coloniality needs to be transnational and interreligious, committed to thinking with people of other religious traditions,” Lan said in her speech.  

Before Lan’s introduction, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Joyce Ann Mercer DIV ’84 introduced the lecture, calling it “a great opportunity for people to get exposure and acquaintance” with Lan’s work.

Mercer said the lecture had a two-fold purpose. When the Bartlett family originally endowed the annual lecture program, they hoped it would foster knowledge and appreciation of the Plymouth colony’s Pilgrims and encourage understanding of the history and culture of modern China. In addition, after another gift in 1992, the lecture’s scope was broadened to include democracy, human rights and world peace. 

Divinity School professor Lyn Tonstead introduced the speaker, noting Lan’s “foundational contributions” to fields like feminist theology, Asian and Asian feminist theology and post-colonial theology. 

“It is always an exciting experience to get to the point in your life when you get to introduce people who once upon a time were the faraway almost legendary authors of works that you read in graduate school,” Tonstead said in her introduction. “I highly recommend it as a life trajectory.” 

Lan broke her lecture into three parts. The first section titled “Whither Political Theology?” outlined the history behind political theology. In the second segment, “Schmitt Fever in China,” Lan discussed the inspiration that Carl Schmitt, a German legal, constitutional and political theorist –– and prominent leader of the Nazi party –– had on the Chinese government.

Lan argued that countries need to stray away from Schmitt’s philosophy and instead adopt a political theology rooted in transnational and multicultural origins.

“What if we think about political theology in a comparative manner? Thinking [about political theology] with Asian religious traditions?” Lan asked the audience. 

The Divinity School was established in 1822. 

Alex used to cover all things the Divinity School. Now, she serves as Weekend Editor. She's a junior in Trumbull majoring in English.