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J. Brooks Jessup

J. Brooks Jessup
Image Credit: Marcus Reichmann

University of California, Berkeley

University of Berkeley Visiting Lecturer

GEAS PostDoc 2013-2016 Chinese History

Department of History
University of California, Berkeley

3229 Dwinelle Hall
CA 94720 Berkeley

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
M.A. University of California, Berkeley
B.A. Hamilton College
Fields of interest:
History of modern China, urban history, Chinese religions, Buddhist modernism, human-animal relations, environmental history.

Brooks Jessup is a historian of modern China. His first book project merges urban and religious history to explore the rise of Shanghai as a national center of Buddhist activism during the first half of the twentieth century. It shows how the city’s rapid development into a global commercial metropolis dramatically transformed its role in the Chinese Buddhist world. He is also developing a second project that brings an environmental perspective to urban history through a study of human-animal relations in Chinese cities from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.

Recovering Buddhism in Modern China. Columbia University Press, 2016. Co-editor and co-author of the Introduction with Jan Kiely.


“Buddhist Activism, Urban Space, and Ambivalent Modernity in 1920s Shanghai.” In Recovering Buddhism in Modern China. Columbia University Press, 2016.
“Beyond Ideological Conflict: Political Incorporation of Buddhist Youth in the Early PRC.” Frontiers of History in China 7:4 (2012): 551-581.
“Dazao xiandai dushi de fojiao shenfen rentong—yi 1920 niandai Shanghai de Shijie fojiao jushilin weili” 打造現代都市的佛教身分認同—以1920年代上海的世界佛教居士林為例 (Making Space for Buddhist Identity in the Modern Metropolis—The Case of the World Buddhist Householder Grove in 1920s Shanghai). Translated by Chen Tingyu. In Gaibian Zhongguo zongjiao de wushinian: 1898-1948 改變中國宗教的50年: 1898-1948 (Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religions: 1898-1948). Edited by Paul R. Katz and Vincent Goossaert. Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, December 2015.


“Rethinking Urbanization in Modern Chinese History.” Review of Urbanizing China in War and Peace: The Case of Wuxi County. By Toby Lincoln. Berlin East Asia Review (February 2017).

“From Secularization to Categorization: A New Paradigm for the Study of Religion in Modern China.” Featured review of The Religious Question in Modern China. By Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer. China Review International 18:4 (2011): 432-435.
Review of Capitalists, Cadres, and Culture in 1950s China. By Christopher Russell Leighton. Dissertation Reviews (2011).
Review of Becoming Faithful: Christianity, Literacy, and Female Consciousness in Northeast China, 1830-1930. By Ji Li. Dissertation Reviews (2010).
Review of Buddhism, War, and Nationalism: Chinese Monks in the Struggle against Japanese Aggressions, 1931-1945. By Xue Yu. Journal of Buddhist Ethics 15 (2008): 17-22.




“Between Cruelty and Killing: Animal Protection, Buddhist Activism, and the Globalization of Civic Culture in Interwar China.” Beyond the Sinosphere: Modalities of Interwar Globalization, Hannover, Germany, July 2016.


“Regenerating the Dharma: Buddhist Activism and Civic Culture in Postwar Shanghai, 1945-1947.” The Sino-Japanese War and Its Impact on Asia, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, December 2015.


“Urbanizing the Dharma: Civic Transformations of Modern Chinese Buddhism.” Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today. Freie Universität Berlin, December 2015.


“The European Impact on Buddhist Modernism in Semi-colonial China,” Modern European History Seminar, University of Oxford, February 2015.


“Like Figs on the Bodhi Tree: Chinese Buddhist Diplomacy in Cold-War Asia,” European Association of Chinese Studies, University of Minho, Portugal, July 2014.


“‘Who Will Enter Hell?’ Chinese Buddhist Elites Under Japanese Wartime Occupation, 1937-1945,” Bordering the Borderless: Faces of Modern Buddhism in East Asia, Duke University, October 2013.


“Buddhist Diplomacy in the Early PRC: The Burma Case,” China and the Chinese World Order in the 1950s, University of California, Berkeley, July 2013.


“A Bodhisattva Descends to Hell: The Buddhist Collaboration of Wen Lanting in Wartime Shanghai, 1937-1945,” Chinese Religions Seminar, Harvard University, December 2012.


“Buddhist Activism, Urban Culture, and Ambivalent Modernity in 1920s Shanghai,” Buddhists and Buddhism in the History of Twentieth-century China, Chinese University of Hong Kong, May 2012.


“Beyond Ideological Conflict: Political Incorporation of Buddhist Youth in the Early PRC,” Advanced Workshop on Contemporary Chinese History, East China Normal University, May 2012.


“Flipping the Script: Buddhist Youth in Communist Shanghai,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 2011.


“Degrees of Collaboration: Buddhist Social Welfare in Wartime Shanghai, 1937-1945,” Historical Society for Twentieth-century China Biennial Conference, Philadelphia, PA, June 2010.


“Bourgeois Buddhism in Republican China: The Religious Life and Thought of Nie Yuntai (1880-1953),” Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, March 2009.


“Buddhist Revival and National Salvation in China at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” Hamilton College, New York, December 2008.


“Managing the Dharma in Modern Urban Society: The World Buddhist Householder Association in Republican Shanghai, 1920-1937,” Buddhist Studies Research Seminar, National Taiwan University, April 2008.