Faculty Spotlight: Prof. Albert Welter

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Despite the pandemic and the challenges of teaching in new configurations, our Center faculty members were productive in 2020, publishing numerous articles and books, presenting at conferences, and winning awards and grants. In this series of posts, we celebrate the achievements of the Center’s faculty and fellows.


Professor Albert Welter’s research focuses on the study of Chinese Buddhism, particularly on the transition from the late Tang (9th century) to the Song dynasty (10th-13th centuries). Professor Welter also encompasses a broader interest in Chinese administrative policies toward Buddhism, including Chinese notions of secularism and their impact on religious beliefs and practices. His work also covers Buddhist interactions with Neo-Confucianism and literati culture. His publications include: Monks, Rulers, and Literati: The Political Ascendancy of Chan Buddhism (Oxford, 2006), The Linji lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy (Oxford, 2008), and Yongming Yanshou’s Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu (Oxford, 2011), The Administration of Buddhism in China: A Study and Translation of Zanning and his Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Order in China (Cambria, 2018), and a co-edited volume titled Religion, Culture and the Public Sphere in China and Japan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). He is currently involved in the Hangzhou Region Buddhist Culture Project, supported by the Khyentse Foundation, in conjunction with Zhejiang University, the Hangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, and the Hangzhou Buddhist Academy. His monograph, A Tale of Two Stūpas: Histories of Hangzhou relic veneration through two of its most enduring monuments, is currently in press (Oxford). Another volume, The Future of China’s Past: Reflections on the Meaning of China’s Rise, is under review. He has also received funding from the American Council of Learned Societies (with the support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation) for an international conference, “Creating the World of Chan/ Sŏn /Zen: Chinese Chan Buddhism and its Spread throughout East Asia.” 


Prof. Welter published several articles this year, including “Confucian Secularism

in Theoretical and Historical Perspective” in Religion, Secularism, and Political

Belonging, edited by Leerom Medovoi and Elizabeth Bentley (Duke University Press) and

“The ‘Resurrection’ of Yongming Yanshou in Ming Dynasty China: The Yongming

Stupa at Jingci Monastery” in the International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture

Vol. 30, No. 1. He also authored “The Role of Legalism and Militarism in the Making

of Modern China” in The Cross Cultural Thinkers No. 2 and “Yulu Formation in Chinese

Chan: The Records of Qingyuan Xingsi and Nanyue Huairang” in the Journal of

Chan Buddhism 1 (Brill).


Forthcoming titles include “Marking Buddhist Sacred Space: The Aśoka Stūpa Cult in Wuyue and at the Court of Song Emperor Taizong” in The Formation of Regional Religious Systems (RRS) in Greater China, edited by Jiang Wu (Leiden: Brill). Two other manuscripts have been accepted for publication: “Zen Master as Construction Entrepreneur: Eisai’s experience of Song Dynasty Chan in the Hangzhou Region” in Song-Dynasty Chan: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on an East Asian Buddhist Tradition, edited by Jean-Noël Robert, Ishii Seijun, and Chao Zhang (Paris: Editions Collège de France, Bibliothèque de l'Institut des hautes études japonaises) and “Literati Chan at the Song Dynasty Court: The Role of Yang Yi in the Creation Chan Identity” in the Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies.


Prof. Welter presented as part of the American Academy of Religion panel “India and

Chinese Religions Compared, Narrative Crossing: From Literary to Visual Arts” on

December 2, 2020. His talk was titled “An Indian Buddhist Imaginaire in Hangzhou China

and Transformations in East Asian Buddhism.” On February 27-28, 2020, he gave a talk titled “Zen Master as Construction Entrepreneur: Eisai’s experience of Song Dynasty Chan in the Hangzhou Region” at the Conference on Song-Dynasty Chan: Interdisciplinary

Perspective on an East Asian Buddhist Tradition at the Collège de France in Paris. He was

also invited to become an editor for the Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies (JCBS), a peer reviewed scholarly journal dedicated to the historical study of Chinese Buddhism in the

premodern and modern periods.


For more information about Prof. Welter’s interests and publications, please visit: https://eas.arizona.edu/people/awelter.