Tibetan Buddhism and Moral Personhood in Contemporary China


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships




This project is an ethnographic study of a group of wealthy Han Chinese who have become followers of Tibetan Buddhism. It examines the integration of Tibetan Buddhist principles into their moral beliefs and ethical practices. The rapid spread of Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese has emerged in the context of a perceived “spiritual crisis” in contemporary Chinese society. This study examines how in the wake of CCP campaigns against “traditional” culture and deepening marketization and globalization, individuals attempt to reconstruct a coherent moral order by appropriating a religious tradition understood by them to be “non-modern.” These direct linkages being formed between affluent Han Chinese and Tibetan monks have the potential to dramatically reshape Sino-Tibetan relations.