Visiting student exchanges provide structured mentorship by renowned international scholars for students to become skilled in working with a wider range of materials and texts. These exchanges also allow students to become confident in working with host institutions and employees in unfamiliar surroundings. These opportunities improve language proficiency, sensitivities to and appreciation of different cultures; and 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. Visiting students are often supported through awards from Mitacs.


Mitacs Research Awards Mitacs Research Internships Visiting Students

Program: Mitacs Globalink Research Award

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 (2020)

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: 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: 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.

Program: Mitacs Globalink Research Internship

Participant: Lina (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 internment 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.

Visiting Students

Participant: Li Wei (Ph.D. Student, Peking University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: From Buddhist Metaphors to Chinese Piyu in the translations of Buddhist texts in the Six Dynasties (2019)

Description: The common Chinese translation of the Buddhist term “avadana”, meaning narratives or parables, is Piyu (譬喻) , yet Piyu when analyzed from a Chinese perspective has additional meanings. Piyu can be used as a metaphor or an analogy. It also means special way of giving an “example” , which is one of the three members of a syllogism(三支).[1] And it is in a complicated process in which these different meanings mixed together as one. This is a sinisizing process, embodied in the Avadana sutras, the chapters of parables in other sutras, notes and commentary of sutras and Chinese literature.

Yet literature, as one of the most important forces of this sinisizing process, hasn’t been well discussed. Therefore, two unique terms, The Literariness and Literalization of Chinese Buddhist texts, could be used to outline the contours of the Chinese Buddhist.

Using Piyu for different Buddhist terms wasn’t an ambiguous way of using language, but rather a unique path towards a more complex idea of Metaphor. And Metaphor, bridging the gap between language and understanding, works as guideposts towards the direction of Literalization of Chinese Buddhist texts. It is in this journey of Buddhist metaphors transitioning into Chinese Piyu that a new way of understanding was formed and prospered.


Participant: Park, Bumkeun (Ph.D. Student, Tsinghua University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: Historical Reality through the Reflections between Image and Text: Northern Dynasties Buddhism and Beyond (2019)

Description: Forthcoming


Participant: Le Jing (Ph.D. Student, East China Normal University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: Efficaciousness, body and the Interaction of multi-religions: Illustrated by the Case of Wang the second grandmother in Ping Gu and Xiang He (2018)

Description: Efficaciousness is an important cultural symbol in religion system, it not only is the medium of the interactive communication between human and deities, but also presents the actual meaning of belief in Daily life; Besides, in the field of belief practice, religious experience and efficaciousness are accomplished and realized through body: for example, the incarnation of eminent monks, sacrificial behaviors, diseases and premonitory dreams are expressions which established on the notions of body. So, behind the two clues—efficaciousness and notions of body—What is the relationship between Buddhism, Taoism and folk belief?

This study will investigate the relationship between different religion systems under the narration of efficaciousness about diseases, bodies and dreams. To solve these problems, we must have a historical perspective, and make a macro context grasp of local social-historical development and the inheritance vein of the belief of Wang the second grandmother; at the same time, we also need to have the contemporary vision, based on the social reality and life practice in the two areas, to seek the belief order in modern society.


Participant: Li Xinyuan (Ph.D. Student, Minzu University of China)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia

Project Title: The Evolution of Vimalakirti image in ancient China (2018)

Description: The Vimalakirti Sutra is one of the key research which I followed during my master studies. The unique ideology of the early Mahayana Buddhist in the scriptures deeply attracted me. In my doctoral period, I would love to continue focusing on The Vimalakirti Sutra. The Study of Vimalakirti image is aimed to analyze the interpretation of Chinese people, especially the Chinese intellectuals in different dynasties, of Vimalakirti’s wisdom and spiritual plane created from the Vimalakirti Sutra. Such image is philosophically based on the Vimalakirti wisdom interpreted in the Vimalakirti Sutra, such as Emptiness of Nature, Non-duality, the Middle Way, the Ultimate Truth. Indeed, the evolution of the image was resulted from different understandings by Chinese people at different times, greatly influenced by the changes of society and traditional culture of China. Therefore, this issue involves the communication between Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese culture, not only reflecting the process of the localization of Indian Buddhism in China, but also indicating the dissemination routes and evolution of Buddhist classics in the ancient Chinese society.


Participant: Fu Jisi (Ph.D. Student, Fudan University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia (2017-18)

Project Title: Forthcoming


Participant: Zhang Wa (Ph.D. Student, Peking University)

Host Institution: University of British Columbia (2017-18)

Project Title: Forthcoming

Description: Mythological images out a comprehensive execution of how she prepares to investigate this subject matter and in turn, contribute and further the dialogue regarding Buddhist aesthetics, and research on Mythology and Comparative Cultural and Religious Studies. She intends to examine what the aesthetics of Buddhism are and how they are used in regard to mythological form, giving a contemporary definition to her subject matter. This investigation brings about questions regarding the role of mythology in Buddhism and religion in general, thus dealing with a very crucial and essential issue of aesthetics and philosophy as well as Cultural and Religious Studies.