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Erica Brindley

Erica Brindley

Professor of Asian Studies, History and Philosophy

201B Old Botany
University Park , PA 16802

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, Princeton University, 2002
  2. BA, Princeton University, 1993


"I am an intellectual and cultural historian of early China (500 BC to 200 AD). I work on philosophical and religious texts, cultural norms, and political cultures of the pre-imperial period and Qin-Han empires. I am also interested in the history of identity and cross-cultural interactions between the sinitic cultures of the North and their southern neighbors along the East Asian coast. Most recently, I have been focusing my attention on the Yue (Viet) ethnicity in the early history of China's southern frontier. This latter project has gotten me involved in the history of South China and its abiding relationships with Southeast Asia. It has also gotten me interested in the maritime history of the South China Sea. As a teacher I enjoy introducing students to the wide world of Asian history and philosophy, and I especially like leading class discussions on identity and frontier history, ideas of ethnicity and gender, and the nature of science, religion, and the body as reflected in pre-modern Asian writings."

Recent Publications:

Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c.400 BCE - 50 CE. Cambridge University Press, September 2015.

Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early ChinaState University of New York Press, August, 2012.

Individualism in Early China: Human Agency and the Self in Thought and PoliticsUniversity of Hawaii Press, 2010.

Co-editor, Maritime Frontiers in Asia: Sino-Viet Relations in the 2nd Millennium CE. Special volume and “Introduction” in Asia Major 27.2 (November, 2014). Based on the proceedings of the conference, “Maritime Frontiers in Asia: Indigenous Communities and State Control in South China and Southeast Asia, 2000 BCE – 1800 CE, Penn State University, April 12-13, 2013.” (Organized by Erica Brindley and Kathlene Baldanza).

Co-editor, Heng Xian and Early Chinese Philosophy. Special volume and “Introduction” in Dao 12.2 (June 2013). Based on the proceedings of the workshop, “Reading and Understanding the Heng xian,” Penn State University, November 12-14, 2010. (Organized by Erica Brindley).

“Authoring Non-Action in Early China,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, special volume by Tim Connolly, ed., Action Theory in Chinese Philosophy, December 2014, forthcoming, late 2015.

“Spontaneous Arising: Creative Change in the Hengxian,” Journal of Daoist Religions 9 (2016): 1-17.

“The Cosmos as Creative Mind: Spontaneous Arising, Generating, and Creating in the Heng xian,” Dao, special volume on Heng xian and Early Chinese Philosophy, 12.2 (June 2013).

“Moral Autonomy and Particularistic Sources of Authority in the Analects,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38.2 (June, 2011): 257-273.

Awards and Service:

ACLS Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society Conference Grant (2013)
Editorial Board Member: Early China (2010 - 2013)
Steering Committee Member, American Academy of Religion, Confucian Study Group (2008 - 2012)
Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2011 - 2012)
Grant, American Council of Learned Societies/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (2010)

Recent Courses:

ASIA197A - Introduction to the Religions of the East
ASIA197B - Introduction to Buddhism
HIST483 - Chinese Society and Culture to 1800
HIST484 - History of Chinese Thought

Research Interests:

Ethnicity, cross-cultural interactions, frontier history; empire-building and colonial interventions; concepts of the self and body; concepts of creativity, moral psychology, and autonomy

Areas of Specialization:

East Asia: