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Dr. Benn will research the connections between religion and military in medieval China

Dr. James Benn wins 5-years SSHRC Insight Grant

Dr. James Benn, in the Department of Religious Studies, has been awarded a 5-year SSHRC insight grant

Feb 14, 2018

Congratulations to Dr. James Benn on being awarded a a 5-year SSHRC insight grant last April worth $113,879.

The objectives of the project are to understand connections between the world of religion and the world of the military in medieval China (roughly fourth to tenth centuries CE). This is an exciting prospect for further studies.

In particular, the research examines the interfaces between Buddhist and Daoist doctrine and practice and the concepts, institutions, and individuals that can be understood to constitute the "military" in medieval China. The issues are examined both from the side of the military, using historical documents from official and unofficial sources, and from the perspective of Buddhism and Daoism as seen in textual and art historical materials. Some questions that will drive this research include: how did religious concepts and practices fit into the worldview of professional and conscript soldiers? What specific ritual practices were deployed in military life? Why and how did military leaders become patrons of religious institutions?

Conversely, how and why did Buddhist and Daoist practitioners and scriptures make use of military concepts and images? The answers to such questions are clearly not restricted to the military arena, but will help us to understand better the seen and unseen worlds that medieval Chinese people inhabited.