Dynamics in Buddhist Networks in Eastern Central Asia 6th to 14th Centuries

BuddhistRoad—Project Site

The objective of the research project Buddhist Road is to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in pre-modern Eastern Central Asia—the vast area extending from the Taklamakan desert to Northeast China. This region was the crossroads of ancient civilisations. Its uniqueness was determined by complex dynamics of religious and cultural exchanges gravitating around an ancient communication artery, known as the Silk Road. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange; its transfer predetermined the transfer of adjacent aspects of culture.

The religious exchange involved a variety of cultures and civilisations, which were modified and shaped by their adoption of Buddhism. The spread of Buddhism overrode the ethnic and linguistic boundaries in Eastern Central Asia creating a civilisational whole, which despite its diversity, shared a set of common ideas originating from Buddhism. One specific aspect of this process in Eastern Central Asia was the rise of the local forms of Buddhism. The project intends to investigate such Buddhist localisations between the 6th–14th centuries. As a scholar with over 20 years research background in Buddhist Studies, at the Tibetan-Chinese interface, project leader Carmen Meinert is recognised as an expert in the field.

The team of the research project will create a new trans-regional and trans-cultural vision of the religious transfer in Eastern Central Asian history and will reconstruct this Buddhist network with its entities and relations. It will incorporate the fascinating, but as yet under-researched field of Eastern Central Asian Buddhism into a broader research agenda of Comparative Religious Studies. It will establish a new research approach by bringing together many research fields and agendas (such as Philology, Art History, Archaeology, Religious Studies) into one synthesising narrative based on a unique perspective, in which, religious exchange in Eastern Central Asia will be analysed as a dynamic network emerging in its spatial and temporal aspects. For the first time the multi-layered relationships between the trans-regional Buddhist traditions (Chinese, Indian, Tibetan) and those based on local Buddhist cultures (Khotanese, Uyghur, Tangut, Kitan) will be explored in a systematic way.


08/2017 – 01/2024

Funded by

Affiliated Persons

Photograph of Michelle Dieren B.A.

Michelle Dieren B.A.

Research Assistant

Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 3.07
+49 234 32-15074
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney

Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney

Cooperation Partner

Brühler Str. 7
53119  Bonn
Office Universität Bonn, Raum 1.029
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Erika Forte

Prof. Dr. Erika Forte

Associated Researcher

Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University
Photograph of Dr. Emanuela Garatti

Dr. Emanuela Garatti


Universitätsstraße 90a
44789  Bochum
Office Office 4.11
Photograph of Tanja Heilig B.A.

Tanja Heilig B.A.

Research Assistant

Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 4.08
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Haoran Hou

Prof. Dr. Haoran Hou

Associated Researcher

Zhejiang University, Hangzhou
Photograph of PD Dr. Yukiyo Kasai

PD Dr. Yukiyo Kasai

Research Associate

Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 4.08
+49 234 32-21683
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Diego Loukota

Prof. Dr. Diego Loukota

Cooperation Partner

290 Royce Hall, Box 951540
CA 90095-1540  Los Angeles
Photograph of Selina Lüdecke

Selina Lüdecke

Research Assistant

Photograph of Dr. Zhouyang Ma

Dr. Zhouyang Ma

Cooperation Partner

Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 2
1010  Vienna
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Carmen Meinert

Prof. Dr. Carmen Meinert

Principal Investigator

Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 1.05
+49 234 32-28783

Danny Aaron Menges

Research Assistant

Photograph of Ben Müller M.A.

Ben Müller M.A.

Research Assistant

Photograph of Prof. Dr. Neil Schmid

Prof. Dr. Neil Schmid

Cooperation Partner

Dunhuang Research Academy
736206  Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China
Photograph of Prof. Dr. Kirill Solonin

Prof. Dr. Kirill Solonin

Associated Researcher

Renmin University of China, Beijing
Photograph of Vivien Staps B.A.

Vivien Staps B.A.

Research Assistant

Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 4.08
Photograph of Dr. Henrik Hjort Sørensen

Dr. Henrik Hjort Sørensen


Universitätsstr. 90a
44789  Bochum
Office 4.08
+49 234 32-21683