Institution: USC Dornsife

Position: Assistant Professor of Religion


Jessica Zu is a scholar of Buddhism. Her research focuses on the intellectual history and the socio-religious change in modern Asia from the overlooked perspectives of religious practitioners. More specifically, she uncovers unknown episodes and understudied historical actors that had paved the way to the modern afterlives of ancient Buddhist spiritual inclusiveness as collective quest for social equality. Her research also illustrates how Asian intellectuals retooled Buddhist spiritual exercises into powerful critiques of scientism, social Darwinism, colonialism, and capitalism. More broadly, by showcasing the vibrant cultural productions and meaning-making circulated between the margins of the colonial empire, her research decodes the appeal of Buddhism in an era of globalized inequality.

Jessica Zu