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ISHB Scholarly Working Group

Modern and Contemporary Buddhist Encounters in the Southern Sinosphere

The scholarly working group Modern and Contemporary Buddhist Encounters in the Southern Sinosphere at the Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB) at University of the West is part of the institute’s overarching initiative to promote the multi-faceted study of Chinese Buddhism under the global condition. The working group examines post 19th century entanglements amongst Buddhist actors and their surrounding societies throughout the southern sinosphere, a region comprised of the South China Sea and its bordering countries. Today as in the past, the region that is connected through the South China Sea constitutes an important contact zone for the development of Buddhism in Asia. Modern and contemporary Buddhist encounters within this contact zone are shaped by the history of European and Japanese colonialism, processes of Asian nation state building, Chinese state policies towards diaspora communities, inner Asian trade and migration, monastic and lay Buddhist networks, and tourism. The aim of the working group is to investigate Buddhist entanglements in the southern sinosphere in order to challenge an understanding of Buddhism as being comprised of clearly distinct traditions such as Theravada or Mahayana or traditions that are linked to a particular ethnicity or nation-state. Instead, the group aims to shift the attention to the role of junctures, mobilities, hybridity, and exchanges for the development of modern and contemporary Buddhist religiosities in Asia.


During the last academic year, the ISHB working group “Modern and Contemporary Buddhist Encounters in the Southern Sinosphere” completed its lecture series. The lectures, which took place online, were very well attended, attracting an audience from around the globe. We are delighted to announce that in June 2023 the members of the group will gather at the institute for an in-person workshop.

Monthly Lecture Series: Academic year 21/22 (All Completed)


Jack Chia, National University of Singapore

Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea


Rongdao Lai, McGill University
"Tracing the Tiantai Lineage in Southeast Asia"


Ester Bianchi, University of Perugia, Italy
"The Theravāda Model and Early Buddhist Meditation in the Republic of China"


Yu-chen Li, National Chengchi University, Taiwan
"Journeys to the South: Chan Buddhist Records from the Chinese Diaspora"


Wei-yi Cheng, Fo Guang University, Taiwan
"Migration, Mahayana, and Buddhist Mobility: Vietnamese Buddhism in Taiwan"

Elsa Ngar-sze Lau, Education University of Hong Kong, HKSAR
"Pilgrimage, Traveling Gurus and Transnational Networks: Lay Meditation Movement in Contemporary Chinese Societies"


Melody Tzu-Lung Chiu, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
"An Overview of Death Ritual in Chinese Buddhism Monasteries of Present-day Myanmar: A Case Study of Shifang Guangyihn Si"

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