We have established two types of Visiting/Exchanging Studentships, one for students from our European and North American partner institutions to travel to and research in East Asia for five months, and the other for students from East Asia to spend one semester (four months) at either UBC or a partner university in North America or Europe.

Through structured mentorship, students will become skilled and confident in working with host institutions and employees in unfamiliar surroundings. These scholarship opportunities will improve language proficiency, sensitivities to and appreciation of different cultures; but more notably, through these short-term experiences abroad, our students will be expected to create and expand upon international networks that will prove invaluable for their own future career development.


Program: Mitacs Accelerate

Participant: Zeng Yang (Postdoctoral Fellow student, University of British Columbia)

Partner Institution: TzuChi Foundation Canada

Project Title: The Institution of Esoteric Buddhism and the Economy of Religious Enterprise in Mid-Tang Period (2018–2020)

Description: The proposed research project deals with the sectarian institution and monastic practices of Esoteric Buddhism in China from the mid-eighth to the early ninth century. It is aimed to reveal that the dynamism between the school’s soteriology and the contemporary social circumstances shaped the monastic practice as a sort of sectarian business to finance the school’s institution. The first part of the research work explores how the monks’ service to the Tang empire laid the solid financial foundation of the institutions according to Amoghavajra’s (705–774) soteriological thought, and the second part discusses how his disciples adapted Amoghavajra’s Esoteric ideology and developed a new type of business to attract new patrons in a worsened politico-economic condition. The investigation will involve extensive examination of various types of historical sources, including texts, inscriptions, and iconographies, and the subject issues to be addressed encompass rituals, doctrines, and political, military, and economic backgrounds. Employing the theory of “rational option”, it will interpret the generous sponsorship to the institutions of Esoteric Buddhism and various ritual programs as a choice that was perceived reasonable instead of unreasonable misconduct of the court. The outcome would advance our knowledge about the prosperity of Esoteric Buddhism during the reign of Emperor Daizong (762–779) and penetrate the mystifying fortunes of the school in the subsequent reigns. It is expected to show the value of economic approach in the enquiry into the history of the religious institution. It would also remind that the theological logic and religious ethics may have held normative force over economic activities in monasticism. The research outcome is hoped to exert reference value for the partner organization to develop charitable projects to attract more social support.


Program: Globalink Research Award

Participant: Shaopeng Fan (M.A. student, East China Normal University, Shanghai)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: A Study of Religious Dialogue: Based on Buddhism and Catholicism in the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China (2019)

Description: This study is about the dialogue of Buddhism and Christianity during the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China, focusing on the views of the Ultimate World, such as the Kingdom of Heaven in Catholicism and the Pure Land in Buddhism. Through research methods of history, philology, and sociology, this study will contribute constructive opinions to the current dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, and provide resources for the current study of the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity. It can provide some constructive advice on the current peaceful development of Chinese Buddhism and Christianity which have the most believers among all religious believers in China today.


Participant: Sarah Fink (M.A. student, University of British Columbia)

Host Institution: Sichuan University

Project Title: The Feminist Buddha: Revisiting the Role of Gender within Buddhist Communities in Sichuan Province, China (2019)

Description: This project will be researching gender inequality in Buddhist communities within Sichuan province, China. The research will include interviews with both monastic and lay practitioners for firsthand accounts of the role of gender in Buddhist institutions. Previous scholarly work concludes there is significant gender inequality within Buddhist institutions. This project will revisit the issue of gender inequality in Buddhism to provide updated research on the perceptions of gender by Buddhist practitioners, how gender roles function within Buddhist communities and whether any actions have been taken by these communities towards creating greater gender equality. The goal of this project is to connect previous literature and proposed resolutions for gender inequality to the current functionality of Buddhist communities in Sichuan province. Furthermore, the research may develop a more thorough understanding of how gender plays a role in contemporary Buddhism.


Participant: Siqi Gan (M.A. student, East China Normal University, Shanghai)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: The translation and research of a Sanskrit manuscript: Vajravali (2019)

Description: This research is focused on the proofreading and translation of the Sanskrit manuscripture Vajrāvāli, a ritual compendium compiled by the famous abbot of Vikramaśila monastery, Abhayākaragupta. Vajrāvāli has mainly introduced the process of drawing a mandala. The so-called “mandala” is a pantheon of tantric Buddhism, which can be classified into the “drawn mandala” (lekhyamandala) and “envisaged mandala” (bhavyamandala). The objective of this project is to make a critical edition of the Sanskrit version of Sutranavidhi and Rajahpatanavidhi with the help of three Sanskrit manuscripts and then translate them into Chinese. The outcome of this research will be a critical Sanskrit version with its Tibetan version and a Chinese translation.


Participant: Zipei Ouyang (Ph.D. student, East China Normal University, Shanghai)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: Beliefs, Practices and Integration of borderland knowledge: A Study of Mahāvaipulya-mahāsamnipāta sūtra under the view of Intellectual History (2019)

Description: This project will concentrate on the 60 volumes Chinese translation Mahāsamnipāta sūtra, examine the quotation and annotation of this scriptures from the later works. With the interdisciplinary research methods including Buddhist philosophy, philology, ancient medicine, history, astronomy and geography, this project will put this sūtra under the perspective of intellectual history and conduct a study on the Buddhist beliefs, practices and mutual integration of borderland knowledge in Medieval China.

This project will collect the domestic and foreign research literature on Mahāsamnipāta sūtra, Indian astronomy, astrology, medicine and geography, and have a preliminary combing of those documents. The result of this project will be a paper on Mahayana beliefs in the mahāsamnipāta sūtra, which is a part of the whole project.


Participant: Shoucheng Shen (Ph.D. student, Capital Normal University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia.

Project Title: The impact of political families in the Dunhuang Buddhist community (2019)

Description: The relation between kinship ties and Buddhist religious life is an important phenomenon in Chinese Buddhism. By identifying and analyzing relevant new textual and visual sources preserved in Dunhuang, this research look into the impact of political families in the Buddhist community. When considering the monk’s family background, one need to consider how upbringing in political families played an important role in the individual careers of monks. By investigating the family ties and social network of monks in Dunhuang district, the research will illustrate how monks took advantage of family ties to gain the patronage of the local regime, and how political families took advantage of monks, who came from their own families to gain political gains. Based on those thoughts, there will be further research into kinship ties in relation to religious life in Dunhuang district.


Participant: Mylinda Sun (Ph.D. student, University of British Columbia)

Host Institution: Ewha Womans University

Project Title: Image as a Power: The Transmission of Auspicious Bodhi-image from India to East Asia under the Tang Empire (618–907) (2020)

Description: The Auspicious Bodhi-image, a special type of image of Buddha, originated from India and then spread in East Asia from the middle of 7th century to the middle of 8th century. Based on previous fieldwork in India and China and the interdisciplinary approaches, this project will focus on the example in South Korea (housed at Seokguram), which represents the closest known version of the Indian origin, in order to figure out the internal reasons of how some specific Buddhist images were disseminated from India to East Asia and became popular.


Participant: Liu Wen (M.A. student, China University of Political and Law)

Host Institution: McMaster University

Project Title: The cultural identity in the Buddhist thought of modern China and Japan—taking the Buddhist reform movement of Taixu rabbi as the research object (2020)

Description: The outbreak of the Anti-Japanese War undoubtedly made Master Taixu’s Buddhist Movement Renovation a mirage. The Japanese Buddhists have turned to believe that the cruelty of the war lies in China’s tenacious resistance. The staged achievements of the “East Asian Buddhist Conference” have also been declared bankrupt.

The purpose of this lesson is to use horizontal comparison method to select a representative and typical modern Buddhist master, Master Taixu. Through sorting out his memoirs, diaries, autobiographies, works and other documents, this lesson focuses on the modern Sino-Japanese relations and analyzes whether East Asian Buddhism in the same civilization circle has the internal unity beyond the nation, the relationship between religion and politics and the causes behind it.


Participant: Peng Xi (M.A. student, China University of Political and Law)

Host Institution: McMaster University

Project Title: Research on politico-religious relationship in Dayunjing Shu (2020)

Description: Two Dunhuang manuscripts S.2658 and S. 6502 had recorded several passages about Dayunjing Shu (大雲經疏), an interpretation about Buddhist scripture Da Yun Jing (大雲經). This book has close relationship with WU Zetian’s enthrone and is extensively researched since it was found. This project has two proposed contents. First, translate the two scriptures into English and introduce the Chinese academic works of Dayunjing Shu to English academic community. Second, study the politico-religious relationship reflected in Dayunjing Shu. Aim at answer three questions: 1) Dayunjing Shu’s real effect on WU Zetian’s enthrone; 2) The influence of Dayunjing Shu on later generations: Is there any similar practice; 3) Buddhism’s attitude toward secular regime, compare with separation of church and state.


Participant: Xinglong Zhai (Ph.D. student, Capital Normal University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: The Research on the Application of the Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha among the Chinese Buddhist Sangha (2019)

Description: Buddhist studies is a worldwide issue, and Chinese Buddhism is also an important part of Buddhist studies. More and more scholarly attention has been paid to the unique value of Chinese Buddhism. The application of Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha is closely related to the location of the Buddhism in China, which has received little attention from academic circles. By studying the application of the Chinese Apocrypha, we can know how Buddhist beliefs are integrated into the traditional Chinese beliefs.

This project will collect and review a diverse selection of Western scholarship and research data regarding Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha outside of China. In addition, the research will talk about the application of the Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha among the Chinese Buddhist Sangha.


Participant: Meng Zhang (M.A. student, University of British Columbia)

Host Institution: University of Tokyo

Project Title: A Comparative Study of Buddhism’s Impacts on the Rise and Evolution of Female Rule in China and Japan (2019)

Description: Approaching from an international perspective, this project will use cross-disciplinary methods to explore Buddhism’s influence on the birth, evolution and gradual recession of female rule in East Asia, with a comparative study of several Chinese and Japanese empresses as the focus. The project will be survey a plethora of relevant materials from a variety of media to rigorous multidisciplinary scrutiny. It will also combine literary works such as biography, artwork such as painting, and social customs such as costume and mores, in order to conduct thorough and in-depth research. This project may reveal significant insights to scholars who study Empress Wu in China or her counterparts in Japan.  The project will also conduct a systematic investigation into Buddhism’s influence upon female rule in these two countries.  More importantly, this research will underscore the necessity of contextualizing any specific tradition of East Asian Buddhism within a broader East Asian perspective, given Buddhism’s cross-cultural and cross-boundary characteristics, and to provide a new perspective on feminist studies in the context of East Asia.


Participant: Jiajia Zheng (Ph.D. student, Renmin University of China)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: Research on the Tang Buddhist Palace Chapels (2018)

Description: The research focuses on the study of the relationship between the system of the Buddhist Palace Chapels and the imperial power in the Tang Dynasty. In fact, the specific architectural functions of the Buddhist Palace Chapels in each period and the focus of service for imperial politics are not the same. The imperial power restricts and requires the Buddhist Palace Chapels to provide religious value. At the same time, the Buddhist Palace Chapels also affect the consideration of imperial politics.

This doctoral thesis reveals the inner relationship and mutual influence of the relationship between politics and religion in the Tang Dynasty through the evolution of the Buddhist Palace Chapels, and expounds the great role of the Buddhist nuns’ family background in their participation in political activities and their great influence on the family. In addition, this doctoral thesis  also elaborates on the religious system of the Tang Dynasty.


Participant: Qianqian Zhu (M.A. student, China University of Political and Law)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: Research on cultural exchanges between China and Japan from the perspective of Japanese monk going to the Song Dynasty for consultation about Tenda’s thoughts—Taking the answer of Siming Zhili as an example (2019)

Description: This paper studies the answer to the Japanese scholarship in the Song Dynasty ancestor of the 17th ancestor of the Song Dynasty. The answers reflect the academic rationale of the Tenda in the early Song Dynasty, and this research will analyze whether his answer is only from an academic standpoint. His answers include his own theoretical creation or just the Buddhist doctrine before the Song Dynasty, whether it shows the new ideas after the debate between Shan-jia and Shan-wai. In response to questions raised by Japanese Buddhism, the Tenda ancestor will give what answers. If compared with Zhizhe’s answers, whether Zhili has his own creation. This research will compare the differences between the two responses, and analyze Zhili inherits which ideas, which doctrine has been changed. It is worth studying the significance of this interaction in the history of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, and the significance of studying the Tenda for later generations. These will affect the interpretation of history and have important significance in the study of cultural exchanges between China and Japan.


Program: Globalink Research Internship

Participant: Elina Jin (Undergraduate Student, Minzu University of China)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: “Compassionate Killing”: Violence and Buddhism in China and Beyond (2018)

Description: Over the last few decades scholars have become increasingly aware of the long-term and widespread intersections between violence and Chinese Buddhist institutions and ideologies. To date, however, scholarly attention has been, by and large, focused on fairly narrow topics in the long history of violence in the saṃgha. This project will attempt a systematic study on the different roles played by medieval Chinese Buddhist monks in warfare and other activities with the potential for violence—e.g., service as military chaplains and counsellors, warriors, practitioners and promoters of the martial arts, and spies. By bringing to light an important (and severely understudied) arena in which the saṃgha interacted with the secular world, this project aims at elevating the current scholarly understanding of the issue of Chinese Buddhism and violence to new levels. It will hopefully stimulate further study of religious violence in other parts of East Asia as well as more nuanced and innovative studies of religious violence in general.


Participant: Nan Yao (Undergraduate Student, Huazhong University of Science and Technology)

Host Institution: McMaster University

Project Title: Texts in Statues (2018)

Description: The main goals of the “Texts in Statues” project are to identify, catalogue, and study all statues from China, Korea, and Japan with manuscripts and texts that have been interred inside of them. Included in the scope of this project will be statues in situ in Asia as well as those in museums in Asia or abroad. As part of the foundational preparatory work for this project researchers in each area will be charged with compiling an annotated bibliography of: 1.) Primary sources (canonical and extra-canonical) that describe the interment of material inside of statues; 2.) Academic studies of known statues containing manuscripts and texts; and 3.) Mentions of the interment of texts in other historical or literary sources.

This project contributes to FROGBEAR’s Cluster 3.3 research.


Participant: Anqi Zhang (Undergraduate Student, Shanghai International Studies University)

Host Institution: University of Saskatchewan

Project Title: East Asian Buddhist Scriptures: “Secondary” Producers, “Primary” Roles (2018)

Description: There are three separate fieldwork projects for this project that examine three sites to address three “secondary” producers: (1) twelfth century copies of eighth century manuscripts collected by distinct communities into Old Japanese Manuscript canons; (2) Late Koryŏ and Chosŏn era (14th-18th century) Korean manuscripts; and (3) fifteenth century Gozan editions of manuscripts and seventeenth century Chinese Chan canons (Jingshan).

Researchers in this workshop will strive to accomplish three goals: (1) to produce an English / CJK catalog of canonical and extra-canonical materials to be compared with the Taishō, Korean, and primary and extant Chinese canons (e.g., Jingshan); (2) to compile an annotated bibliography and study of where canon-formation took place on the “periphery” by “secondary” producers; and (3) to produce an annotated bibliography and study of how sectarian, institutional groups shaped the process of canon-formation in East Asia. Goal (3) will lead to a working catalog current researchers and students can use to learn where to access important archives, collections, and sites where alternative—perhaps “original”—editions of texts, with colophons, can be accessed.

Separate field workshops for this project will run during the summers of 2017; 2018; and 2019 in Japan, Korea, and China, respectively. The proposed projects are as follows: (1) 2017 in Japan: manuscript collections and archives (and site visit research) where Tendai manuscripts can be accessed; (2) 2018 in Korea: archival research (Dongguk and Seoul university libraries) and site fieldwork to re-examine how the Korean canon was informed by specific contexts and how manuscript production continued in Korea into the Chosŏn period tied to the boundaries of canonicity well into the nineteenth century. (3) 2019 in China: now readily available [Japanese] Gozan editions of Chan texts—compared with the Ōbaku canon—demonstrate how communities in southern China shaped and fundamentally redefined the Chinese Buddhist canon, from the ground up.

This project contributes to FROGBEAR’s Cluster 2.2 research.