I am a social anthropologist based in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent. My research focuses on Buddhism in China and the Chinese diaspora.
I have been undertaking field research in northern China on a regular basis since 2003, mainly in order to study the revival of Tibetan Buddhism among ethnic Mongolian lamas and their Mongolian and Han Chinese followers.
More recently I have also been conducting research in Taiwan and in the UK on a transnational Chinese Buddhist movement, Fo Guang Shan.
My research has led me to an interest in what I call cultures of metacognition—that is, traditions of thought and practice in relation to aspects of thought through which people understand and attempt to regulate their own thought. In particular I am interested in cultures of belief, and ignorance. My ethnographic research has also led me to an interest in the anthropology of ethics, and specifically, in the ways in which contemporary Buddhists apply traditional Buddhist ideas about the cultivation of the self in a variety of modern and multicultural contexts.
From 2014 to 2016, I was Lecturer in Buddhism in the Department of Religions and Theology, University of Manchester. From 2012 to 2014, I was Mellon Newton Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University. In 2011-2012, I was Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. From 2007-2011, I was a Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, and in 2007 I spent a semester teaching contemporary British history at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law (中国政法大学). I hold a PhD in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University.