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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Gareth Fisher

Fisher portrait

Associate Professor

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Religion

Asian-Asian American Studies

Chinese Studies

South Asian Studies

505 Hall of Languages

315.443.5914

gfisher@syr.edu


Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Fisher joined the faculty in August, 2008. His work focuses on the revival of lay Buddhism in contemporary mainland China where he has conducted ethnographic research for two decades. Fisher’s research interests include examining how new converts brought up under the influence of communism become attracted to Buddhist teachings and exploring the cultural politics surrounding the restoration of Buddhist temples in the post-Mao period. He is the recipient of two Fulbright awards and has received research fellowships at Yale University and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Gōttingen, Germany.

Education

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Virginia (2006)
  • M.A., Religion, Columbia University (1995)
  • B.A., Religious Studies, Grinnell College (1994)

Courses

REL 186 Buddhism
REL 221 Morality and Community
REL 381 Ghosts and Ghostbusters
REL 385 Religion in Chinese Society
REL 698 The Anthropology of Religion
HNR 360 Self and Society in Contemporary China

Career

  • Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Syracuse University, 2014-present.
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Syracuse University, 2008-2014.
  • Visiting Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Richmond, 2007-08.
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies, Yale University, 2006-07.
  • Instructor, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, 2005.

Books

Recent Articles

  • “From Temples to Teahouses: Exploring the Evolution of Lay Buddhism in Post-Mao China.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society (7:1, 2020).
  • “Lay Buddhists and Moral Activism in Contemporary China.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society (4:2, 2017).
  • "Religion as Repertoire: Resourcing the Past in a Beijing Buddhist Temple." Modern China (38:3, 2012).
  • "In the Footsteps of the Tourists: Buddhist Revival at Museum-Temple Sites in Beijing." Social Compass (58:4, 2011).
  • "The Spiritual Land Rush: Merit and Morality in New Chinese Buddhist Temple Construction." The Journal of Asian Studies (67:1, 2008).

Recent Presentations

  • “Morality, Meditation, and Magic: The Changing Face of Lay Buddhism in China Today.” Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture in Chinese Buddhism, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2021).
  • “Buddhist Religious Activity Sites: The Evolution of State-Controlled Religious Space in China.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (2020).
  • “Mapping the Sacred in a Secular Land: The Emergence of Buddhist Tourism in China.” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting (2019).
  • “Temples and Teahouses: Changing Dimensions of Buddhist Sociality in Xi Jinping’s China.” Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany (2018).
  • “The Evolution of a Buddhist Public Sphere under Urban Change in Beijing, 1972-2017.” Symposium on Chinese Religions in the Age of Massive Urbanization. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Gottingen, Germany (2018).
  • “The Buddhist Public Sphere and State-led Desecularization.” Workshop on Secularization, Desecularization and the Buddhist Public Sphere.” Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2018).
  • “Mindful Buddhists: Global Flows, Cosmopolitan Identities, and Political (Re)Negotiation in Contemporary Urban China.” Conference on the Rise of Religions in Asia, Boston University (2018).
  • “Mindful China: How Chinese Zen Traveled around the World and Came Back Again.” Department of Religious Studies, St. Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada (2017).