Alain Arrault obtained his master's degree in Western philosophy (1985, History of philosophy in Late Antiquity and Medieval Age) and a PhD degree in Chinese studies (1995). Concerning Chinese Studies, his main field was on a first step the history of thought and religion in Pre-modern China (Sung and Ming dynasties), especially focusing on Wang Yangming (master's degree) and on Shao Yung (PhD degree), and on a second step the history of Annual Chinese calendars from the third to tenth centuries. Since 2002, he has focused on common religion studies, in particular looking at religious practices through domestic statuary in Hunan province from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th Century, and contemporary fieldwork studies.
He was professor of Centre d’etudes chinoises at the University of Liege (Belgium) from 1996 to 2000, and is currently assistant professor of Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient, and professor attached to the Research Center on Modern and contemporary China (School for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences). From 2001 to 2006, he was director of the Center of the Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient in Peking, and director of the international research program entitled “Taoism and Local society. Liturgical structures in Central Hunan” (2002-2005) funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. He is currently a member of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs scientific committee for French Institutes in Asian Countries, an elected representative of the EFEO researchers at the Administrative and Scientific Council of Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient.
During his stay at HYI, Professor Arrault will collaborate with Professor James Robson (EALC) on a project entitled "Local Society and Religion in China: The Case of Hunan."