Field: East Asian Religion
Advisor: Zhaohua Yang
Yishu Ma is a Ph.D. student of East Asian Religion. Before joining Columbia in Fall 2020, she gained her B.A. (2018) in Chinese Literature and Language from Fudan University, and M.A. (2020) in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from The University of Pennsylvania.
Yishu is interested in the transmission and diffusion of religious knowledge and practices to China in the dramatically changing socio-political world of 7th-14th-century East Asia. Her research has focused on the interplay between the propagation of Buddhism in China and China’s political rhetoric and social reality, processes of institutionalization and laicization of religion, diplomatic relationships with both Japan and Korea, etc. Her research draws upon both the textual and visual materials from Tang-Song-Yuan China, Unified Silla-Koryŏ Korea, and Heian-Kamakura Japan.
Yishu is currently working on how Koryŏ Korean elite immigrants, visiting Buddhist priests, traveling scholar-officials, relocated eunuchs, and court ladies contributed to enriching China’s religious ecology during the 11th-14th centuries. With a particular focus on the religious life of the Korean eunuchs and court ladies serving in the Yuan court, she aims to rethink and re-theorize gender, sexuality, disability, normalcy, etc., which were terms originally designated upon western presumption for modern use, in the Mongol matrix’s context.