Short bio

Channa Li has been working since 2019 as a Post-doc at the IKGA, doing research on the transmission of Buddhism in China. She is also affiliated with the project “Sanskrit texts from Tibet”. Li was a doctoral student at Leiden University from 2013 to 2019, under the supervision of Prof. J.A. Silk. In 2017–2018 she was awarded a Dissertation Fellowship from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). She received her BA and MA in Sinology (Chinese History) and Tibetology from Renmin University, PR China.

Li’s field of interest ranges widely from the Buddhist cultures and materials along the Silk Road (esp. Dunhuang, Kizil) to the significance of Buddhist narratives in helping to visualize the ideological history of Buddhism in ancient India, China, and Tibet. She focuses also on translations of Buddhist Mahāyāna texts of medieval Chinese and Tibetan monks, especially Tibetan translations of Chinese sūtras. Her PhD dissertation highlights the diversity in early Buddhist views of a central Buddhist authority. Through stories about the disobedient disciple Devadatta and the chief disciple Śāriputra, she has investigated different aspects of how the Buddha’s authority was understood, consolidated, challenged, and inherited in narratives.

Li is the project leader of the FWF Esprit Project “The Future Buddha’s Past Lives – On the Maitreyaparipṛcchā” (2023–2026). The project aims to thoroughly explore the multifaceted doctrinal stances in the development of the bodhisattva ideal and the Maitreya cult as portrayed in the scripture titled the Maitreyaparipṛcchā. By producing critical editions and English translations of the four historical translations of the text, the project also seeks to contribute to a more complete picture of Indo-Sino-Tibetan cultural interactions between the 8th and 11th centuries, especially in relation to their impact on scriptural transmission and translation practices.