Mobility, Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia

Kaiqi Hua

Kaiqi Hua

Kaiqi Hua

University of California


Keeping Hangzhou Holy: Temple-State Relations in Metropolitan Space and Politics (1100-1400)

This dissertation examines the grand Chinese metropolis of Hangzhou between 1100 and 1400. In particular it focuses on the city's Buddhist temples and the state's strategic involvement with these temples spanning three different regimes: the late Northern Song and the Southern Song (1100-1276), the Yuan (1276-1368) and the early Ming dynasties (1368-1400). During the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1276), Hangzhou was not only China's capital, but also the most populous, commercialized city in the empire. In the subsequent Yuan and Ming regimes it lost its capital status, but it remained a core city of China's most prosperous region and supplied all of its resources from its own hinterland. Throughout this era, it retained a supreme spiritual status as a holy place, owing to its high density of Buddhist sacred sites. This dissertation discusses the transformation of the sacred landscape and its Buddhist institutions, the influence of the sacred landscape on the cityscape, and on urban and imperial politics. Throughout three regimes, various individuals in imperial, regional and local government attempted to monopolize local power, accumulate spiritual merit and reinforce state authority through their efforts to control monastic property. At the same time, members of the clergy and local patrons negotiated in ways that influenced the transformation of monastic sites. The location, relocation and expansion of selected state-sponsored temples affected the urban development of Hangzhou, especially for those temples of the White Cloud sect. By analyzing this set of issues, my dissertation provides a new understanding about the mutual relationship between Buddhist and urban space, and illuminates the ways in which each regime uniquely influenced the relationship between local society and the Buddhist sacred landscape.


Personal Information

Shalom, I am Kaiqi, PhD candidate in World Cultures and History from the University of California, Merced. In the academic year 2013-14, I will serve as one of the visiting research fellows for this fantastic project!

My research interests include, but are not limited to: urban history, Buddhist studies, sacred geography, the social history of religion, and the history of East-West interactions within the Mongol empire proper, both before and after the conquests, with particular focus on China. In addition, I have expertise in using digital methods for historical research, such as database inventory and management. My dissertation concerns the politics, social role and urban impact of Buddhism in China from 1100 to 1400 CE, and centers on the Mongol Yuan era. It focuses on the politically powerful Buddhist temples situated in Asia’s most metropolitan area, and compares institutions within the city walls and those in its hinterlands, which turn out to have quite different histories. During the 2011-2012 academic year, I held a University of California fellowship which supported me in conducting primary-source and field research and establishing an international scholarly network in China, Hong Kong and Japan. 

As a research fellow at the Hebrew University, I expect to work both on the project and on my dissertation. I will make a contribution to the project by Chinese data selection and entry, and use the database for my own research related to the Buddhist-Islamic contacts in Mongol Yuan China. Through peer discussion and group seminars, I expect to gain more knowledge about the history of all the Mongol khanates as well as the relationship between Mongol multiethnic government and local society. The project helps me to develop my interest in studying non-Chinese migrations in Yuan China, and cross-regional religious networks through continental and maritime routes under the Mongols' domain, by drawing database evidences and applying the human mobility theory that I would learn from the project. Last but not least, I wish to obtain basic proficiency in Hebrew, Arabic and Persian.

Apart from my academic research, I enjoy cooking, traveling and horseback riding. I love nature, architecture and food! One of my favorite hobbies is roaming around an unfamiliar city, and exploring abandoned urban buildings as well as remote ancient monasteries.

Conferences and Presentations

  • May 13, 2014. The White Cloud Sect and Puning Canon (Puning zang) in Yuan China, Presentation at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
  • April 28, 2014. The Urban History of Hangzhou: Before and After the Mongol Conquest. ERC Mongol Project seminar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
  • December 20, 2013. The Journey of Zhao Xian (1271-1323): From Chinese Emperor to Tibetan Monk under the Mongols. Presentation at the international conference "Network and Identity: Exchange Relations between China and the World", Center for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University, Belgium.
  • December 17, 2013, Images of Zhao Xian (1271-1323): Changing Views of a Former Song Emperor under the Mongols. Invited talk at Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), the Netherlands.
  • November 26, 2013, The Journey of Zhao Xian (1271-1323): From Chinese Emperor to Tibetan Monk under the Mongols. Presentation at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Other Activities

  • May 26 - June 27, 2014. NEH Summer Institute The Mongols and the Eurasian Nexus of Global History. East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.