Jack Meng-tat Chia

Years of Stay at HYI: 
Sep 2009 to Dec 2012

Jack Meng-Tat Chia is a Senior Tutor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on Buddhism in maritime Southeast Asia, Chinese popular religion, overseas Chinese history, and Southeast Asia-China interactions. His first book, Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity across the South China Sea, is under contract with Oxford University Press. The book is a study of Chinese Buddhist migration in the twentieth century, presenting the connected history of Buddhism in China and Southeast Asia through a synthesis of institutional and intellectual history, as well as local and global history.

Chia is co-editor of Living with Myths in Singapore (2017) and has published articles in journals such as Archiv Orientální, Asian Ethnology, China Quarterly, History of Religions, Journal of Chinese Religions, Material Religion, and SOJOURN. His next book project, “Beyond the Borobudur: Buddhism in Postcolonial Indonesia,” focuses on the history and development of Buddhism in the world’s largest Muslim country since 1945.

Born and raised in Singapore, Chia holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University, where his dissertation was awarded the Lauriston Sharp Prize. He received his B.A. and M.A. in History from the National University of Singapore, and his second M.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, where he was a Harvard-Yenching Scholar. Before returning to NUS, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Recent Publications: 

“Neither Mahāyāna Nor Theravāda: Ashin Jinarakkhita and the Indonesian Buddhayāna Movement.” History of Religions 58, 1 (August 2018): 24-63.

“Who is Tua Pek Kong? The Cult of Grand Uncle in Malaysia and Singapore.” Archiv Orientální 85, 3 (December 2017): 439-460.

Living with Myths in Singapore. Singapore: Ethos Books, 2017. (Co-editor)

“Museum and Hagiography: The Ashin Jinarakkhita Memorial Hall in Jakarta.” Material Religion 13, 2 (2017): 272-274.

“Defending the Dharma: Buddhist Activism in a Global City-State.” In Singapore: Negotiating State and Society, 1965-2015, edited by Jason Lim and Terence Lee, 143-158. New York: Routledge, 2016.

“Toward a Modern Buddhist Hagiography: Telling the Life of Hsing Yun in Popular Media.” Asian Ethnology 74, 1 (2015): 141-165.

“A Recent Quest for Religious Roots: The Revival of the Guangze Zunwang Cult and its Sino-Southeast Asian Networks, 1978-2009.” Journal of Chinese Religions 41, 2 (November 2013): 91-123.