Yan Yiqiao received his B.A. in History from Ohio University and M.A. and M.Phil. in Chinese Studies from the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is currently finishing up his Ph.D. dissertation at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. His research interests include the history of modern China, modern Chinese religion, the history of World War II in Asia, and the social history of modern Chinese Buddhism.
His dissertation, titled, “Charity, Ritual, and Spiritual Work in Wartime Chengdu and Chongqing, 1938-1946,” will examine critical interactions between religious groups (Buddhist, Daoist-influenced redemptive societies, and Christian) and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist state in response to wartime crisis conditions in Chengdu and Chongqing from 1938 to 1946. The Republican period in China is usually considered as a moment of rapid secularization and conflictual separation between the state and the various religious traditions. The Sino-Japanese war, followed by the Civil War however, along with massive loss of life and social disruption, created new parameters for relations between the state and religions, with more intense cooperation and entirely new modes of accommodation, the consequences of which lasted long after the end of the war. By examining the three levels of significant developments that arose from this wartime moment, his study questions current understandings of both the state and these religious groups by proposing an alternative to the overly simplistic and distorting zero-sum game, state-society contest for power framework.
Previously he has worked on the case study of a Sichuan-based lay Buddhist devotee Yuan Huanxian袁焕仙and the origin of Chan Buddhist lay 居士禪activism in 1940s Sichuan. His M.Phil. thesis explores the civic influence of Buddhist monks and lay Buddhist local elites in Chengdu and Chongqing and their efforts in managing the wartime crisis in the two cities during the Second Sino-Japanese War. His interview with Franciscus Verellen on Daoism and Daoist studies appeared in the Journal of Taoist Studies道教學刊（vol.5, 2020）.