C. Julia Huang

Cultural anthropology, ethnographic and fieldwork methods, bodies in Chinese culture, gender and religion, the Buddhist body, culture and globalization
Research Interests: 

C. Julia Huang is a cultural anthropologist of Chinese societies. Huang’s specialty includes religion, globalization, and gender. She has done extensive fieldwork in Taiwan, Malaysia, the United States, and shorter periods of research in Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, and China. Her first book, Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement (Harvard University Press, 2009) focuses on a lay Buddhist movement that began as a tiny group in Taiwan and grew into an organization with ten million membership worldwide. Recently Huang completed a co-authored book with Robert P. Weller, Keping Wu, and Lizhu Fan, Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). The book examines religious contributions to social welfare in China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. She is currently working on a project on Buddhism and cadaver donations for medical purpose.

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Selected Publications: 


Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies (co-authored with Robert P. Weller and Keping Wu, with Lizhu Fan) New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Special issue on Wings of Belief: Modern Chinese Religious Transnationalism, The European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol., 2, no. 2 (Autumn). Guest Editor, 2003.


“Buddhism and its Trust Networks between Taiwan, Malaysia, and the United States.” The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 59-76, 2013.

“Genealogies of NGO-ness: The Cultural Politics of a Global Buddhist Movement in Taiwan.” positions: east asia cultures critique, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 347-374, 2009.

“Gendered Charisma in the Buddhist Tzu Chi (Ciji) Movement.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 29-47, 2008.

“Wings of Belief: Modern Chinese Religious Transnationalism.” The European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (Autumn), pp. 205-216, 2003.

“’Sacred or Profane?’ The Compassion Relief Movement’s Transnationalism in Taiwan, the United States, Japan, and Malaysia.” The European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (Autumn), pp. 217-241, 2003.

“Weeping in a Taiwanese Buddhist Charismatic Movement.” Ethnology, vol. 42, no. 1 (Winter), pp. 73-86, 2003.

“Merit and Mothering: Women and Social Welfare in Taiwanese Buddhism.” Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 379-396. (Co-authored with Robert P. Weller). Translated into Chinese and Korean, 1998.


“From Diasporic to Ecumenical: The Buddhist Tzu Chi (Ciji) Movement in Malaysia.” In Proselytizing and the Limits of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Asia, ed. Juliana Finucane and R. Michael Feener, pp. 191-209. ARI-Springer Asian Series, Volume 4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business, 2014.

“The Gender of Charisma: Notes from a Taiwanese Buddhist NGO.” In The Anthropology of Religious Charisma: Ecstasies and Institutions, ed. Charles Lindholm, pp. 101-116. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

“Religion-Based Social Capital and Civic Engagement: A Case Study of A Buddhist Welfare Organization in Malacca, Malaysia.” In Vibrant Societies: The Dynamics of Social Capital and Civic Engagement in Asia, ed. Amrita G. Daniere and Hy Van Luong, pp. 127-144. New York: Routledge, 2012.

“Chapter 6: Gender and Sexuality.” In Religion in Chinese Society: Communities, Practices and Public Work, ed. David A. Palmer, Glenn Shive, and Philip L. Wickeri, 107-123. New York: Oxford University Press. (Co-authored with Elena Valussi and David A. Palmer), 2011.

“Charisma in Motion: Compassion Relief Movement in Taiwan, the United States, Japan, and Malaysia.” In Cities in Motion: Interior, Coast, and Diaspora in Transnational China, ed. Sherman Cochran and David Strand; Wen-hsin Yeh, general editor, pp. 272-294. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies. (co-authored with Robert P. Weller), 2007.

“Buddhist Education and Civil Society in Modern Taiwan: Notes from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation's Mission of Education.” In Development and Practice of Humanitarian Buddhism: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. by Mutsu Hsu, Jinghua Chen, and Lori Meeks, pp. 269-283. Hualien, Taiwan: Tzu Chi University Press, 2007.

“The Compassion Relief Diaspora.” In Buddhist Missionaries in the Era of Globalization, ed. Linda Learman, pp. 85-209. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.

“CIJI or Tzu-Chi.” In Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition, ed. Lindsay Jones, pp. 1787-1790. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2005.

“The Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation of Taiwan.” In Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism, ed. Christopher Queen, Charles Prebish, Damien Keown, pp. 136-153. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.


Discussant Notes: “Islamic Philanthropies in Northwest China,” by Man Ke and Hao Sumin. Inter-Asia Roundtable 2013: Religion & Development in China: Innovations & Implications, 17-18 October 2013, ed. R. Michael Feener and Wu Keping, pp. 69-72. Singapore: Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 2014.

Book Review: Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan. By Madsen, Richard. Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 67, No. 4 (November), pp. 1428-1429, 2008.

Teaching Interests: 

Huang has been teaching in the United States and Taiwan. She has given workshops and lectures in Europe, East and Southeast Asia. Courses taught by Huang include:

Upper-level/Graduate: The Buddhist Body in East Asia

Undergraduate: Bodies in Chinese Culture; Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Reading the Classics; Culture and Globalization; Gender and Religion; Psychological Anthropology

Graduate: Anthropological Methods; Globalization and Transnationalism; Gender and Religion: Anthropological Perspectives; Proseminar: Cultural Anthropology; Religion and Civil Society; Religion and Modernity; Gender and Power; Gender and Globalization

Education and Training: 
Ph.D. and M.A. in Anthropology, Boston University
B.A. in Sociology, National Taiwan University