In his new book, Building a Religious Empire: Tibetan Buddhism, Bureaucracy, and the Rise of the Gelukpa (UPenn Press, 2020), Sullivan utilizes constitutions written for Buddhist monasteries as well as Chinese and Tibetan historical materials to uncover the role of Buddhist prelates in legislating and administering their monasteries. This historical output of constitutions and other documents contributed to the creation of a network of homogenous religious beliefs and practices that stretched thousands of miles across Tibet and Inner Asia.
Sullivan’s new book project, “The Golden Bridge between China and Tibet,” has been funded by the Fulbright Scholar Program as well as the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. This project aims to consider the efforts of early Geluk missionaries and local Mongolic patrons on the frontiers between China, Tibet, and Mongolia, figures whose contributions to history have been overshadowed by later “great men” such as the “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama (1617-1682). The first essay resulting from this research is entitled “The First Generation of Dge lugs Evangelists in Amdo: The Case of ’Dan ma Tshul khrims rgya mtsho (1578-1663/65),” which will be published at Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines.
Two other concurrent projects are, first, translating a Tibetan-language book manuscript on the history of the Monguors and, second, a social network analysis of two major Geluk prelates from northeastern Tibet, Tuken Lozang Chökyi Nyima (1737-1802) and Kungtang Könchok Tenpé Drönmé (1762-1823).
University of Virginia, Ph.D., History of Religions, 2013
University of Virginia, M.A., History of Religions, 2013
University of Kansas, M.A., East Asian Languages and Cultures, 2007
University of Notre Dame, B.A. 2003
Professor Sullivan teaches courses pertaining to religions in East Asia (including Tibet), as well as a new course on cognitive and evolutionary approaches to the study of religion.
- Core Communities and Identities: Tibet, Colgate University (Fall 2016)
- Buddhism, Colgate University (Fall 2016, Fall 2015)
- Tibetan Buddhism, Colgate University (Spring 2016)
- Cognitive Science of Religion, Colgate University (Spring 2016)
- Foundations of Chinese Thought, University of British Columbia (professor; Fall 2014)
- Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, Univ. of British Columbia (professor; Spring 2014)
“The Qing Regulation of the Sangha in Amdo.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1-34 (First View August 2020). doi:10.1017/S1356186320000255. Peer-reviewed.
“The Body of Skyid shod sprul sku: The Mid-Seventeenth Century Ties between Central Tibet, the Oirat Mongols, and Dgon lung Monastery in Amdo,” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, no. 52 (October 2019): 251-283. Peer-reviewed.
“The Manner in Which I Went to Worship Mañjuśrī’s Realm, The Five-Peaked Mountain (Wutai),” by Sumba Kanbo (1704-1788) (Introduction and translation), Inner Asia, vol. 20, no. 1 (2018): 64-106. Peer-reviewed.
“Durkheim with Data: The Database of Religious History,” The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 85, no. 2 (June 2017): 312-47 (with Edward Slingerland). Peer-reviewed.
“Exploring the Challenges and Potentialities of the Database of Religious History for Cognitive Historiography,” Journal of Cognitive Historiography, vol. 3, nos. 1-2 (2016): 12-31 (with Michael Muthukrishna, Frederick S. Tappenden, and Edward Slingerland). Peer-reviewed.
“Monastic Customaries and the Promotion of Dge lugs Scholasticism in A mdo and Beyond,” Asian Highlands Perspectives, vol. 36 (2015): 84-105. Peer-reviewed.
“Venerable Fazun at the Sino-Tibetan Buddhist Studies Institute (1932-1950) and Tibetan Geluk Buddhism in China,” Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, no. 9 (2008): 199-241. Editorial reviewed.
“Blood and Teardrops: the Life and Travels of Venerable Fazun (1901-1980).” In Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Practitioners. Ed. Todd Lewis. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell (2014): 296-304.
Brenton T. Sullivan (邵云东), “Menggu’er yu Menggu guanxi: Youning si de Wang Fo xitong he Neimeng qizhang” 蒙古尔与蒙古关系：佑宁寺的王佛系统和内蒙旗长 (Monguor-Mongol Relations: Gönlung Monastery’s Wang Incarnation Lineage and the Zasag of Inner Mongolia) [In Chinese; based on Sullivan 2015 above]. In Liao Jin Yuan fojiao yanjiu: Di er jie Hebei Chan wenhua luntan lunwenji 辽金元佛教研究: 第二届河北禅宗文化论坛论文集 (The Study of Buddhism of the Liao, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties: Proceedings of the Second Annual Hebei Chan Culture Conference). Edited by Huang Xianian 黄夏年 (2012). Vol. 1: 63-71. Invited, non-peer-reviewed article.
“A Review of The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 26 (2019): 189–94.
“Review of Morality and Monastic Revival in Post-Mao Tibet,” The China Quarterly (September 2019): 1159-1161.
“Review of Peter Schwieger’s The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation,” Reading Religion of the American Academy of Religion (July 2016). readingreligion.org/books/dalai-lama-and-emperor-china
“Review of Michael Lempert’s Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery,” Himalaya, The Journal of the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies, Vol. 33, no. 1 (2014): 139-40.
“Review of Federica Venturi’s ‘Creating Sacred Space: The Religious Geography of Sa skya, Tibet’s Medieval Capital,’” Dissertation Reviews, dissertationreviews.org/archives/7047 (2014).
“Review of Sam Van Schaik’s Tibet: A History,” The Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. 71, no. 4 (Nov. 2012): 1135-39.
"A Definition of Religion that Works: The Religious Group and the Database of Religious History,” to be delivered at the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion,” San Antonio, November 2016.
“Huari (dpa' ris / dpa' re): The Gateway between Mongolia and Tibet,” paper to be delivered at the international conference “Interactions within Buddhist Traditions in China and Tibet: Xianmi Combinations and Sino-Tibetan Buddhism,” Renmin University, Beijing, July 2016 (invited participant).
“Innovators and Imitators of Monastic Culture in Amdo and Inner Mongolia in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” paper to be delivered at the Fourteenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Bergen, Norway, June 2016.
“The Database of Religious History,” co-delivered at the Workshop on Religion, Ritual, Conflict, and Cooperation: Archaeological and Historical Approaches, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, April 2016 (invited participant).
“The Beautiful Path of Practice: Ritual Orthopraxy and Sectarian Coherence from Tibet to Mongolia,” paper delivered at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Seattle, March 2016.
“The Religious Group: Demarcating the Unit of Analysis in the Database of Religious History,” part of panel at the XXI Quinquennial World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, August 2015 (paper author; panel co-organizer).
“Orthopraxy and Ordering Monks from Central Tibet to Amdo,” Tibetan Buddhist Networking in the 18th century: Lives and Letters, Columbia University (organized by Gray Tuttle and Lauran Hartley and funded by the Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies), March 2015 (invited workshop participant).
“It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey (to Rich People’s Houses): Or, Why Wutai Shan is Not That Special,” 17th Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, August 2014.
“A Large Database Approach to Cultural History,” Digital Humanities Annual Conference, University of Lausanne and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, July 2014 (lead author; with Edward Slingerland, Michael Muthukrishna, Fred Tappenden, and Carson Logan).
“The Database of Religious History,” Digital Humanities Summer Institute, University of Victoria, June 2014 (Unconference Session presentation).
“Enhancing Traditional Humanities Research,” Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Philadelphia, March 2014 (part of panel organized with colleagues at the University of British Columbia, “New Digital Humanities Approaches to Asian Studies”).
“Dazhong siyuan zhi jilü” 大众寺院之纪律 (Disciplining Masses of Monks), Qinghai Academy of Social Sciences, Xining, China, August 2013 (invited speaker).
“Disciplining Masses of Monks,” Vinaya Texts and Transmission History: New Perspectives and New Methods, Yongfu Monastery, Hangzhou, China, August 2013 (invited speaker).
“Chan Buddhism, Apparitions of Mañjuśrī, and the Sacred Mount Wutai: A Translation from the Chan Baizhang qinggui zhengyi ji,” The Space That Is More Than Space: New Perspectives on Buddhist Sacred Sites in East Asia, University of British Columbia, August 2013 (invited speaker).
“Sacred Sites, Politics, and Society,” The Space That Is More Than Space: New Perspectives on Buddhist Sacred Sites in East Asia, University of British Columbia, August 2013 (panel discussant).
“The Rise of Mega Monasteries in Northeastern Tibet,” Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium First Plenary Meeting, University of British Columbia, May 2013 (poster presentation).
“Regulating Monastic Allegiance: The Imperial System of Monastic Regulation in Eighteenth-Century Amdo,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 2012 (panel organizer).
“Menggu’er yu Menggu guanxi: Youning si de Wang Fo xitong he Neimeng qizhang” 蒙古尔与蒙古关系：佑宁寺的王佛系统和内蒙旗长 (Monguor-Mongol Relations: Gönlung Monastery’s Wang Incarnation Lineage and the Zasag of Inner Mongolia), Second Annual Hebei Chan Culture Conference: Northern Chinese Buddhism of the Liao, Jin, and Yuan Dynasties, in Xingtai, Hebei Province, China, May 2012 (invited speaker).
“Tibetan Monastic Customaries (bca’ yig) in the Growth of Mass Monasticism in Amdo,” University of Virginia Buddhist Studies Forum, September 2011 (invited speaker).
“Zangchuan fojiao de sigui yu gelu pai zai Anduo diqu zhi fazhan” 藏传佛教的寺规与格鲁派在安多地区之发展 (Tibetan Monastic Customaries and the Growth of the Geluk Sect in Amdo), Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, June 2011 (invited speaker).
“Tibetan Monastic Customaries (bca’ yig) in the Growth of Mass Monasticism in Amdo,” 16th Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan, June 2011.
“Tibetan Buddhist Blueprints for Reviving Chinese Buddhism: Fazun’s (1901-1980) Xizang minzu zhengjiao shi (Political and Religious History of the Tibetan People),” American Academy of Religion 2009 Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, November, 2009.
“Tibetan Models for Resurrecting Chinese Buddhism: Early Chinese Accounts of Tibetan Buddhism,” North American Graduate Student Conference in Buddhist Studies, University of California-Berkeley, April 2009.
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, September 2010-July 2011, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Blakemore Freeman Fellowship, awarded March 2010 by the Blakemore Foundation. Declined.
Summer Foreign Language Fellowship, Summer 2009, awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
Sheng Yen Education Foundation Grant for Pre-generals Reconnaissance, awarded in June 2008.
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (U.S Department of Education) (2), Summer 2004 and Year 2004-05, funds administered by the Kansas University Center for East Asian Studies.
International Research Roundtable Award ($24,368, Principal investigator), October 2014. Awarded by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia for an international conference entitled “Prosociality in History and Historiography: Can Big Gods Tip the Balance in World History?” (Co-PI: Edward Slingerland)
Post-doctoral Travel Award, July 2014, awarded by Post-doctoral Fellows Office at the University of British Columbia.
Robert J. Huskey Travel Fellowship (3), June 2011, November 2012, and August 2013, awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
Society of Fellows Travel Fellowships (2), April and November 2009, awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.
Irwin S. Penn Memorial Scholarship, Summer 2009, awarded by the East Asia Center of the University of Virginia for research and language study in China.
W. Dexter Whitehead Graduate Student Fellowship, University of Virginia, 2009-2010.
Ellen Bayard Weedon Travel Grant, Summer 2008, awarded by the East Asia Center of the University of Virginia for research and language study in China.
Mary and Joseph Kuo Scholarship for Advanced Chinese Language Proficiency, University of Kansas Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, April 2006.
Liu Family Distinguished Achievement Award in Asian Studies, University of Notre Dame Department of East Asian Studies, May 2003.
|Chinese||Highly proficient in speaking, writing and reading Modern Mandarin
Highly proficient in reading Classical Chinese
|Tibetan||Highly proficient in speaking, writing, and reading|
|Spanish||Highly proficient in speaking, writing, and reading|
|French||Proficient in reading|
|German||Proficient in reading|
|Manchu||Basic reading proficiency|