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"Toward a History of South China Sea Buddhism." A talk by Jack Meng-Tat Chia

Friday, April 16, 2021 at 10:00am to 11:00am

Virtual Event

Please join us for an invited talk by Prof. Jack Meng-Tat Chia, generously co-sponsored by the Departments of Asian Studies, History and Philosophy; the South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Religious Studies Programs; and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The event is open to all interested, and special accommodations can be made for access upon request.

Chinese Buddhists have never remained stationary. They have always been on the move. Why did Buddhist monks migrate from China to Southeast Asia? How did they participate in transregional Buddhist networks across the South China Sea? In this talk, Prof. Chia will tell the story of “South China Sea Buddhism,” referring to a Buddhism that emerged from a swirl of correspondence networks, forced exiles, voluntary visits, evangelizing missions, institution-building campaigns, and organizational efforts of countless Chinese and Chinese diasporic Buddhist monks. Drawing on multilingual research conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Prof. Chia challenges the conventional categories of “Chinese Buddhism” and “Southeast Asian Buddhism” by focusing on the lesser-known—yet no less significant—Chinese Buddhist communities of maritime Southeast Asia. By crossing the artificial spatial frontier between China and Southeast Asia, this talk brings Southeast Asia into the study of Chinese Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism into the study of Southeast Asia.

Jack Meng-Tat Chia is Assistant Professor of History and Religious Studies at the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on Buddhism and Chinese popular religion in Southeast Asia, transnational Buddhism, and Sino-Southeast Asian interactions. He is the author of Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea (Oxford, 2020), as well as articles in Archipel, Asian Ethnology, China Quarterly, Contemporary Buddhism, History of Religions, and the Journal of Chinese Religions.

Due to COVID-era regulations, all attendees are required to register for this event here:

Upon registration you should receive an automated email with the Zoom link. If for any reason you do not receive this email, please contact Bruno at

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Philosophy, Asian Studies, History, East Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, South Asia Program, Cornell China Center



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Bruno Marshall Shirley

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