Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D., Stanford University
American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship
Project: Esoteric Networks: Transregional Buddhism in the Dali Kingdom
The Dali kingdom (937-1253) in what is now southwest China was a hub in a religious network extending to the neighboring regions of Song-dynasty China, Tibet, India, and Southeast Asia. These regions had in common the politico-religious system of Esoteric (or Tantric) Buddhism. This project shows how Buddhism circulated beyond the confines of regional traditions by tracing how esoteric Buddhist texts, images, and objects entered the Dali kingdom. Dr. Bryson uses network theory to understand both the documented networks that consist of textual, visual, and archaeological records and the ways in which Dali-kingdom Buddhists represented the networks that brought these materials to the region. She argues that these two kinds of networks must be mapped in relation to each other to understand esoteric Buddhism in transregional perspective.