Announcement of the New Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute


Profile photo of James RobsonOn behalf of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. James Robson as the Institute’s incoming Director. He will take up the position on July 1, 2024, succeeding Dr. Elizabeth J. Perry, who has ably led the Institute since 2008.

Dr. Robson, the James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Harvard College Professor, teaches East Asian religions. Robson received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University in 2002, after spending years doing research in China, Taiwan, and Japan. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism and is particularly interested in issues of sacred geography, local religious history, manuscript cultures, Chan/Zen Buddhism, and the historical connections between Buddhist monasteries and mental hospitals in Japan. His book, Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak in Medieval China (Harvard, 2009), received the Stanislas Julien Prize of the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and the Toshihide Numata Book Award in Buddhism. He is the editor of the Norton Anthology of World Religions: Daoism (W.W. Norton, 2015). Dr. Robson is currently the Victor and William Fung Director of the Harvard University Asia Center and Director of the Harvard University Summer School at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. He has previously served as Chair and Director of Graduate Studies for the Regional Studies East Asia A.M. program. He is also the co-editor of the journal T’oung Pao and a member of the Editorial/Advisory Board of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies.

Dr. Robson has deep familiarity with the Institute and has contributed to its work in many capacities, as Trustee, mentor to visiting scholars, and lecturer in training programs. He also serves on the Harvard-Yenching Library Advisory Committee.

I am grateful to my colleagues on the HYI Search Committee, the Trustees and staff of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities at Harvard University, and others who supported the search process.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Robson to the Institute later this year and to acknowledging and celebrating Dr. Perry’s many years of distinguished service.

Helena Kolenda

Chair, Harvard-Yenching Institute Board of Trustees
Chair, Harvard-Yenching Institute Search Committee

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