Cluster leader: Susan Andrews, Mount Allison University and Youn-mi Kim (Ewha Womans University)

Women’s significance in the economic life of East Asian religions is widely recognized but not yet well understood. This is in part because sources foregrounding their participation in this sphere very often remain outside official canons. Histories of the intersections between economics and religion in the region oftentimes prioritize monks, monasteries, male courtiers and rulers because these are the sites and settings that dominate the sources with which we have been working.

The From the Ground Up “Market and Merit” research cluster endeavours to fill this scholarly lacuna, reconstructing the diverse ways women have been active in the economics of religious life in East Asia. Between 2019 and 2022, we will document, collate, and disseminate records of women donors preserved at centers of devotion to popular female deities in northern China, Korea, and Vietnam. These will include Bixia yuanjun 碧霞元君 in northern China, Gwan-eum (Hangul: 관음) in South Korea, and Thánh Mẫu (聖母) in Vietnam. Working with Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese partners, we will convene a conference to explore how patterns of giving by women overlapped and differed at centers of devotion in East Asia. This meeting of established and junior scholars, as well as graduate and undergraduate students, will result in at least one conference volume exploring women donors and the economics of East Asian religion.


Field Visit Report

Read 2023 field visit report


Data Collection

View 2023 digital data collection


Cluster Participants

Affiliated Researchers Associated Researchers
Andrews, Susan (Mount Allison University) – 2023 Hemmings, Chelsea (Seoul National University) – 2023
Bell, Carolyn (Harvard University) – 2023 Zhang, Jie (National University of Singapore) – 2023
Bell, Stephanie (Columbia University) – 2023 Zhao, Jinchao  (NYU Shanghai) – 2023
Kim, Youn-mi (Ewha Womans University) – 2023
Meisner, Paige (Mount Allison University) – 2023
ter Haar, Merijn (Yale University) – 2023
Zhang, Biao (McGill University) – 2023
Zhu, Jiayi (University of Chicago) -2023


Field Visit Sites

Cluster 1.3

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Yeongamsa Temple Site 靈巖寺址: 35.471820, 128.003170
Buseoksa Temple 浮石寺: 36.998610, 128.686960
Songgwangsa Museum: 35.002550, 127.275130
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Yeongamsa Temple Site 靈巖寺址
Cluster 1.3 description

Cluster 1.3 2023 - Yeongamsa Temple Site 靈巖寺址 data collection

Yeongamsa Temple Site 靈巖寺址, Hapcheon, South Korea
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Buseoksa Temple 浮石寺
Cluster 1.3 description

Cluster 1.3 2023 - Buseoksa Temple 浮石寺 data collection

Buseoksa Temple 浮石寺, Kyŏngsang-namdo, South Korea
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Songgwangsa Museum
Cluster 1.3 description

Cluster 1.3 2023 - Songgwangsa Museum data collection

Songgwangsa Museum, Chŏlla-namdo, South Korea