Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity Across the South China Sea (Oxford University Press 2020) is the first monograph in the English language to explore the transnationally connected history of modern Buddhist communities in China and Southeast Asia. Dr. Chia introduces the idea of “South China Sea Buddhism,” which allows Buddhist studies to move away from the “China-centered perspective” when studying overseas Chinese Buddhism. This maritime perspective of looking at Buddhism in transregional and transnational networks also invites scholars to rethink “Southeast Asian Buddhism,” which is often associated with Theravāda Buddhist majority on the mainland. Drawing on multilingual research conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, Dr. Chia traces the movements of three Buddhists active in the South China Sea in the twentieth century. Through the stories of Chuk Mor, Yen Pei, and Ashin Jinarakkhita, Monks in Motion discusses how modern Buddhists negotiated and constructed cultural and religious identities in the South China Sea.
Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.