Cambria Press Author Albert Welter – Speech at AAS 2018 Reception

Cambria Press author Professor Albert Welter, Head of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona, gave a speech about his book, The Administration of Buddhism in China: A Study and Translation of Zanning and the Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy (Da Song Seng shilue), at the Cambria Press reception at the AAS 2018 conference in Washington, DC.

Watch Professor Albert Welter’s speech and/or read the transcript below.

Cambria Press Publication Author Albert Welter

Below is a transcript of Professor Albert Welter’s speech:

“I know there are some of you who have worked on projects longer than I have on this one, but I doubt there are many. I started working on the early Song dynasty literati Buddhist Zanning as a post-doctoral project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, back in the late 1980’s, and have continued to work on this project intermittently in the intervening years. Here we are, 30 years on, and finally, thanks to Cambria Press, and aided by another Canada Council grant along the way, my study of Zanning and translation of his Da Song Seng Shilüe (Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy) is finally seeing the light of day.

I tend to get asked two different kinds of questions regarding my work: Americans ask me how I got interested in China, Chinese ask how I got interested in Buddhism. As we all know, religion can be a touchy subject in China, less so these days than before, but still needing some delicacy at times. I recall my first time to China in the early to mid-1980’s being encircled on the Bund in Shanghai by a crowd of a hundred or more curious Chinese, wondering who the laowai was in their recently opened but still mostly forbidden land. When they learned that I had come to study Buddhism, a nervous hush fell over the crowd. My Chinese interlocutor for the group, an “elderly” gentleman (“elderly” being a relative term, as I have come to find 30 years later) quickly asked me a few clarifying questions about the nature of my study and was able to announce to the palpable relief of the crowd that I was “biàn zhèng wéi wù zhǔ yì zhě” (a dialectical materialist). The day was saved.

Sinologists, on the other hand, tend to ask me how I got interested in Zanning. Perhaps they are just as relieved to find that Zanning was not my primary interest but was an outcome of a larger fascination with the origins of Song dynasty Buddhism, the role of Buddhism in the transition from Tang to Song, and how such a thing as a Buddhist literatus, or Buddhist ru or ruseng, came to play such a prominent role. My interest in Zanning generated a number of contradictions that have continued to percolate. For example, on a panel a few years ago tasked with the question, “when did ru become Confucian?” it fell upon me to suggest, thanks to Zanning, that ru did not always become Confucian. On the topic of the association of daoxue with the rise of Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianism, I, thanks to Zanning, get to remind the audience that daoxue was but one part of a larger Songxue movement, and that Songxue included, quite prominently, the study of Buddhism, an interest that prevailed among literati throughout the Song. Buddhists like Zanning were also knowledgeable advocates of Confucian teaching to an extent that Confucians looked to him for advice on their own teachings and practices. Zanning forces us to ask fundamental questions about the nature of Chinese Buddhism, not as a haven for monastic recluses, but as an avenue for engaged scholars to participate in the highest level of debates over pressing matters of cultural significance. Zanning reminds us that Song Dynasty Buddhists were not pushed to the margins of society, even if dynastic historians did a masterful job of erasing their presence. To those of you who find the grammar and vocabulary of Buddhist texts “messy” to the point of incomprehension, Zanning’s Topical Compendium may offer some relief, just as it did when Emperor Taizong commissioned it as a primer on Buddhist history, institutions, and practices, for the newly formed bureaucracy of the Song Dynasty.

Finally, I want to say that I am especially pleased to be able to publish with Cambria. I’m not sure any other press would have taken on a 700-page publication project, roughly half of which is devoted to notes and appendices. And they have done a masterful job with great support and enthusiasm. I want to thank Toni Tan, David Armstrong, and Victor Mair and everyone else who has worked on this. I’m very impressed with the quality of the work, and the speed with which you executed all the minute tasks that go along with publishing. And I’m really happy to have published with a press devoted to the finest works on Sinology. Zanning would be pleased. Thank you.

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About the book

The early Song dynasty (960–1278) was a time of immense intellectual fervor, as China rulers, after over a century of internecine warfare, embarked on a new course that promoted wen (literary or cultural arts) over wu (martial prowess). With the new literary based agenda came a discussion of how to constitute Song’s wen agenda, how to define wen values, what kinds of literature should be included and what excluded, and so on. Zanning (919–1001) was the leading Buddhist literatus at the Song court and his Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy represents a major contribution to this debate, the understanding of which would be deficient without it.

The relationship between religion and the state is a topic of major concern in the history of religions. While books, articles, and essays on this topic are common for other regions of the world, especially the West and increasingly for Islamic regions, there are few works discussing the dynamics of religion/state relations in China. Studies are beginning to appear that discuss the dynamics of religion/state relations in modern China, and while many studies of pre-modern Chinese religion touch on this topic, there is no study in English that addresses this topic head on. The relationship between religion and the state in China is a perennial problem that shows no sign of losing its significance in contemporary international affairs, and studies of the history of this relationship with a focus on Buddhism, the most articulate religious force in China during the past couple of millennia, cannot but have a real value to scholars and students.

Zanning’s Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy engages the issue of the Buddhist presence in China directly, arguing for the clear and consistent contributions of Buddhism to Chinese culture and society in an unambiguous way. While ceding claims to independence, Zanning offers that Buddhism is an integral component of China’s culture, not an alien tradition anathema to Chinese values, but an important contributing factor to them. While other works argue in favor of Buddhism in the Chinese context in doctrinal and intellectual terms, only the Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy asserts the necessity of Buddhist institutions and customs as assets in administrative affairs.

The Administration of Buddhism in China: A Study and Translation of Zanning and the Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy is thus a very important book for Asian studies, Buddhist studies, and history collections.

Title: The Administration of Buddhism in China: A Study and Translation of Zanning and the Topical Compendium of the Buddhist Clergy (Da Song Seng shilue)
Author: Albert Welter
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979428
722 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage:

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AAS 2017 Toronto: Books and Scholars in Asian Studies to Watch

AAS 2017 Cambria Press Authors

Check out the new books by these Asianists at the Cambria Press booth 109 at the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. (AAS) #AAS2017 conference in Toronto.

Top (left to right): Wilt Idema (Harvard University), Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), Wendy Larson (University of Oregon), Mark Bender (The Ohio State University), and Charlotte Furth (University of Southern California).

Bottom (left to right): Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College), Christopher Lupke (University of Alberta), Takayoshi Yamamura (Hokkaido University), I-Hsien Wu (City College of New York), and Philip Seaton (Hokkaido University).

Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania) will make a special appearance at the Cambria Press booth (109) on Friday (March 17) at 11 a.m. to discuss the Cambria Sinophone World Series and his latest book Buddhist Transformations and Interactions. In addition, six other new books are being launched just in time for the AAS conference. These are:

  • Zhang Yimou by Wendy Larson (University of Oregon)

    “Larson’s book is important for any reader interested in how the political sphere and visual culture redefine each other.” —Yomi Braester, University of Washington; and Coeditor, Journal of Chinese Cinemas

  • The Borderlands of Asia by Mark Bender (The Ohio State University) 

    “When it comes to other books on the market, there is nothing close to this book in terms of quality or range of material. This is a unique and valuable addition to the field of literature and Asian studies.”—Jonathan Stalling, University of Oklahoma; and Editor, Chinese Literature Today

  • Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature by I-Hsien Wu (CUNY) 

    “I-Hsien Wu has done brilliant work in teasing out the intertextual threads of The Story of the Stone. In a very astute manner, she examines sources drawn from performing arts and erotic fiction, identifies ideological and affective contestations, and ponders the consequences of the novel as a text in flux.” —David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

  • Chinese Avant-garde Fiction by Zhansui Yu (Nazareth College) 

    “This thoughtful book offers fresh insights into avant-garde fiction in the early decades of China’s reform. Engaging Chinese and Western traditions, Yu Zhansui argues forcefully that the Chinese avant-garde carries on the probe into the darkness of history in a quest for transcendent truths about human conditions.” —Ban Wang, Stanford University

  • Opening to China by Charlotte Furth (Univerity of Southern California) 

    “Few Americans today have any sense of how far China has come since its opening in the early 1980s. Charlotte Furth was there to see the start of the defrost with the country’s opening and her lively account of her experiences in China then provides a unique and invaluable record. It is useful in these days of rising tensions between China and the U.S. to be reminded of China’s social reality not very long ago.” —Gordon H. Chang, Stanford University

  • Contents Tourism in Japan by Philip Seaton, Takayoshi Yamamura, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, and Kyungjae Jang

    “This may be the best book ever written on tourism in Japan! This work is on one of the most important subjects in contemporary tourism studies and Japan studies, perhaps a forerunner of things that are also happening in the Korean and Chinese worlds and elsewhere, which makes it doubly important.” —Nelson Graburn, UC Berkeley

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Take a sneak peek at the Cambria Press Asian studies catalog

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Use coupon code AAS2017 at to save 30% on all hardcover titles. Offer ends May 15, 2017.

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Forthcoming book in the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security Studies (RCCS) Series headed by Dr. Geoffrey R. H. Burn

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Come to booth 109 to get a complimentary Cambria Sinophone World Series tote bag

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Sheraton Toronto Churchill Room

New Cambria Press Publication: Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism

Cambria Press is pleased to announce a new publication Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to 21st Centuries by Karil J. Kucera.

This book will be launched at the upcoming 2016 Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference in Seattle.


The following are excepts from the book, which includes 159 color images:

The earliest image made of Baodingshan dates to 1873 where it is shown as one of seven sites in the county gazetteer. This nineteenth-century depiction is of interest to this study as much for what it doesn’t show as for what it does.


One of the most striking images within Great Buddha Bend is the colossal Revolving Wheel of the Six Paths or Wheel of Rebirth. A rare three-dimensional depiction of what was a painted image at other sites, the Wheel of Rebirth bridges ritual activities of the lay community and those of the monastic establishment at Baodingshan.

Baodingshan Wheel of Rebirth

The idea that Baodingshan was centered on Esoteric doctrine, as Howard and others have argued, makes little sense when the site as a whole is considered and none at all when Esoteric practice is the goal. Although a portion of the site includes Esoteric deities, the overall ethos of the site is not Esoteric, but a synthesis of a variety of Buddhist philosophies.

Baodingshan Esoteric doctrine

At Baodingshan, no longer is the audience simply privy to the Buddha’s written inner thoughts within the jātaka tales; thanks to the image, they are physically present to witness his actions. With the dialogue construct, the worshipper is present at the conversation, joining in with the ahistorical masses to hear the Buddha tell his story.

Baodingshan Buddha

One feature of the Kindness of Parents text is its underlying erotic aspect,… the gilded breasts of the mother focus the worshipper’s attention on the importance of the transaction taking place, making them signifiers for a debt that could not easily be repaid.

Baodingshan Kindness of Parents

Scattered throughout Baodingshan, these writings add another layer of meaning to the site, presenting text as image of a different sort. These works not only represent an image of power, seen by the uneducated as marks of immortality made by the educated elite, they also represent an image of time passed. “Time passed” by men of a certain amount of leisure who saw it as their duty to remark upon who they were, why they came, and what they thought of the sites and sounds of Baodingshan.

Baodingshan immortality

The designation of Baodingshan as a World Heritage Site added a new layer of meaning and a new way of reading the works. … Moving beyond the linear historical narrative of the site, Baodingshan becomes part of a universal framework, transcending time, sharing in a global meta-narrative.

Baodingshan World Heritage Site

Watch the video with Dr. Karil Kucera discussing her book.

Learn more about the book and recommend it.

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AAS 2014 Book Highlight! The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography: Censorship and Transformation of the Tripitaka

Cambria Press academic publisher

“Advances the understanding and provides much new data about this genre of literature and its impact on Chinese religion and culture.”     – Lewis Lancaster, University of California, Berkeley

Praise for The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography:

“Highly recommended for scholars and students studying Buddhism, history of the Chinese book, and comparative religion.” – Jiang Wu, University of Arizona

“This highly accessible book is not only helpful to the nonspecialists in Buddhism but also to Buddhist scholars who are interested in how and why differing versions of the Buddhist canon came into existence.” – Rita M. Gross, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

An excerpt from The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography:
Buddhist catalogs in China developed under the influence of a rich tradition of cataloging the Confucian classics and Chinese national literature, a tradition that started long before Buddhist scriptures were first translated into Chinese. Beginning with the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), book cataloging came to be viewed as a highly respectable field of knowledge and a task worthy of the most distinguished historians. Particularly, under the influence of two historians, Liu Xiang (79–8 BCE) and Ban Gu (32–92 CE), knowledge about books both lost and preserved, dynasties under whose rule books were written, and the lives of their authors became indispensable information—knowledge believed to have contributed to the advancement of civilization itself. … During the second half of the fourth century, when Buddhist scholars in China began seriously examining the authenticity of their scriptural canon, they did not simply address the problems of its translation; they aimed to elevate its sociocultural status to the heights that the Confucian classics had enjoyed for centuries before the first Chinese translations of Buddhist teachings were produced.

This book has been published just in time for the AAS and will be on display at Cambria Press booth #302 (right in front of the exhibit hall entrance)
at the 2014 Association of Asian Studies (AAS) annual conference in Philadelphia.

MEET THE AUTHOR! Dr. Storch will be speaking at the AAS book launch session (room 407) on Friday (March 28) at 7:30 p.m.

Check out the 2014 Cambria Press Asian studies catalog and download the booklist for your librarian.

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AAS 2014 teaser: “I have been waiting for this book for a long time” – Victor Mair

Victor Mair Cambria Press

Find out which book Dr. Mair has been waiting for at the 2014 AAS conference! Photo by Zhichen Zhao.

“I have been waiting for this book for a long time, but the wait was well worth it.
Considering the importance of the subject, it is rather amazing that [this book] has never been published before.”
Victor H. Mair

Which book is this? Cambria Press will be unveiling it, hot off the press (along with more exciting new titles), at the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference next week!
(Hint: It is not in the Cambria Sinophone World Series).

In the meantime, please take a look at the Cambria Press Asian studies catalog and the Cambria Press ad, featured on the outside back cover of the AAS program.

Download the book list, check off the books you want, and send it off to your librarian via campus mail/e-mail ASAP so that your library can take advantage of the 40% discount!

If you will be at the AAS, please stop by the Cambria Press booth (#302) to browse our books. The Cambria Press booth is right in front, near the exhibit hall entrance.

You can also read our books online with the Free Preview feature.

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AHA 2014 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. – Great meeting authors, even better letting them know about glowing book reviews!

Cambria Press academic publisher Eli Alberts History Daoism Yao China AHA

Cambria Press author Eli Alberts

Cambria Press started off 2014 on an incredibly positive note at the 2014 American Historical Association (#AHA2014) annual meeting. One of the biggest highlights at conferences is meeting our authors, and it is even better when we get to speak them in person about the glowing journal reviews their books have earned!

Eli Alberts’s book, A History of Daoism and the Yao People of South China, has been praised by Asian Anthropology for being ” truly delightful … the first book that combines Chinese, Japanese and Western perspectives on the study of Yao identity and religion … an excellent example of the study of ethnic relations.” Asian Ethnology also commends that book for being “a pioneering book.”

This book will be on display again at the 2014 Association of Asian Studies (AAS) annual conference in Philadelphia, but you don’t have to wait–read it online now!

Cambria Press is offering a 40% discount on all hardcover titles for the AHA. Please use coupon code AHA2014; the offer is valid until Feb 14, 2014. Librarians can use this code too, so please pass this on to them! Download the Cambria Press history catalog and booklist.

Check out our e-book rentals too: Cambria monographs have excellent chapter readings for undergraduate and graduate classes–avoid the hassle of textbook orders and simply assign a book chapter (or more) to students for the week’s reading for only $8.99!

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NEW PUBLICATION: The Trinitarian Vision of Jonathan Edwards and David Coffey is now available!

Cambria Press is pleased to announce that The Trinitarian Vision of Jonathan Edwards and David Coffey by Steven M. Studebaker  is now available!

The book brings Jonathan Edwards’ and David Coffey’s trinitarian understanding of God and redemption into ecumenical and constructive dialogue. The Trinity plays a systemic role in their theology and leads them to similar Spirit Christologies and pneumatological concepts of grace. Their use of the Augustinian mutual love model of the Trinity and their integration of it with Christology and pneumatology provide the resources to develop a transformational and relational vision of redemption and inclusivist theology of religions.

To achieve its historical, ecumenical, and constructive program, the book moves through three steps. The first describes the Augustinian mutual love model of the Trinity in light of two of its major historical representatives—St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas—and situates Edwards’ and Coffey’s thought in continuity with that tradition. The second section demonstrates that Edwards and Coffey’s shared trinitarian theology led them to similar Spirit Christologies and pneumatological concepts of grace. Based on the historical and comparative work in the first two sections, the third section makes two constructive proposals. First, it presents a relational and transformational understanding of redemption in place of the traditional Protestant evangelical legal doctrine of justification and formulaic approach to spiritual formation. Second, it proposes an inclusive theology of religions that includes a positive theological attitude toward the universal human religious quest and its manifestation in various religious traditions of the world.

Intended for students and scholars working in evangelical, ecumenical, and trinitarian theology, this project seeks to make a constructive contribution to contemporary evangelical theology.The book will appeal to multiple audiences. First, it is important for Edwards scholars and to readers with a general interest in Edwards since there are few book-length treatments of his trinitarianism. Moreover, and accenting its appeal, the book presents an alternative interpretation of his trinitarian theology relative to the previous books. Second, it should attract the attention of evangelical theologians interested in the doctrine of the Trinity, ecumenical theology, revising traditional evangelical views on Christ and the Holy Spirit, and developing an evangelical theology of religions. Finally, the book will be valuable to Catholic theologians interested in ecumenical theology and especially that related to Evangelicalism.

Tell your librarian about this book today–they can order it directly from Cambria Press or they can order through their preferred academic book wholesaler (Cambria Press is on the approval list of premier wholesalers like YBP).

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