Department of Religions and Philosophies & School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Dr Stefania Travagnin

Key information

Department of Religions and Philosophies Reader in Chinese Buddhism Centre of Buddhist Studies Committee Member School of History, Religions and Philosophies Reader in Chinese Buddhism
Laurea MA (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice); PhD (SOAS)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Support hours
By appointment


Research Project on Religions in Modern Sichuan

Research interests

My research has addressed religion (mostly Buddhist doctrine, institutions, and communities) in the twentieth and twenty-first century mainland China and Taiwan, and under the three main areas of (1) religion and Chinese society; (2) textual studies; (3) concepts and methods for the study of Chinese religions.

My research on the theme of Religion and Chinese Society asks which role religion, Buddhism in particular, plays in the public sphere and for society at large, from the early twentieth century up to today. I have given special emphasis on topics such as media, education, female communities, management of diversity, politics, cross-strait relations. About religion and media, sample publications include my edited volume Religion and Media in China: Insights and Case Studies from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Routledge, 2016), which is the first comprehensive book-length manuscript published on religion and media in China.

More recently I shifted my attention to so far neglected topics as Buddhist ritual practices online in China (see my chapter in the volume Buddhism After Mao; University of Hawai’i Press, 2019), and the Buddhist and Confucian adoption of artificial intelligence in mainland China (my recent article in the Review of Religion and Chinese Society, 2020). Buddhist education has been a recurrent topic in my work; I have looked at the development of Sangha education vis-à-vis the historical and political changes in early twentieth-century China; Buddhist education for the militaries during the second Sino-Japanese conflict (1937-1945); elementary non-religious education organized and delivered by the Sangha in the Republican era.

Finally, I am the director of the multi-year research project ‘Mapping Religious Diversity in Modern Sichuan’, which is funded by the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (2017-2021; co-director: Elena Valussi, Loyola Chicago). In this project, a team of scholars from different disciplines investigate the religious and cultural landscape in modern Sichuan, a crucial yet highly ignored area for what concerns the history of Chinese religions.

My work in Textual Studies includes philological and philosophical research on Buddhist texts; the reception history of traditional values and sacred scriptures from Chinese Buddhism, especially from the Pure Land school, Mādhyamika, and the Āgamas; and the study of textual communities in modern Taiwan.

My research on the history of semantics of traditional Chinese and Buddhist values continues in my project on Concepts and Methods, where I adopt a discursive approach to the study of conceptual categories relevant to religion in China. The international conference ‘Framing the Study of Religion in Modern China and Taiwan’ that I organised in Groningen (December 2015) became the starting point of the three co-edited volumes Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions that have been published between May 2019 and May 2020 with De Gruyter. I have also sought a dialogue with colleagues in the general academic study of religion, in order to investigate Buddhism and China not only in their micro-territorial constraints but also as global players in the macro-academic study of religion.


PhD Supervision

Name Title
Zhang Yuting Representing China’s Southwestern Landscape: Power, Knowledge, and Art in Sichuan, 1700s-1850s.


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