Religion, medicine, and women's health in premodern East Asia

Start - End 
2020 - 2024 (ongoing)



This interdisciplinary and multiresearcher project focuses on the transcultural dynamics in the creation, transmission, and reconfiguration of knowledge on childbirth, pregnancy, and women's health in premodern China, Korea, and Japan, with special emphasis on the medical and religious traditions, such as Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, and native Korean religions. The team of collaborating researchers includes specialists from Belgium, Switzerland, US, Korea, and Taiwan. The project is sponsored by the International Collaborations Committee of American Academy of Religions and participating universities.

Research group events:

27-28 September 2022  International Symposium: reading and analysis of premodern East Asian primary sources in classical Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Readers and participants: Dr. Jessey Choo (Rutgers University), Dr. Hsin-Yi Lin (Fo Guang University), Dr. Daniela Tan (Zurich University), Dr. Sujung Kim (DePauw University), Elias Bouckaert (Ghent University), Dr. Anna Andreeva (Ghent University). These intenstive reading sessions are open to Ghent University researchers, and MA, PhD, and postdocs in Buddhist, Chinese, and Japanese studies. To attend, please contact

29 September 2022    International Symposium: Final research presentations, open to the public and researchers from Ghent University. To attend, please contact

8.50 – 9.00                   Welcome remarks by Prof. Dr. Ann Heirman (Buddhist Studies)

9.00 - 9.30                    Jessey Choo (Rutgers University): There is a Talisman for It: Daoist Rituals for Protecting Pregnancy

9.30 - 10.00                  Hsin-Yi Lin (Fo Guang University):The Cult of Guanyin and Protective Blessings for Childbirth in Esoteric Buddhist Materials from Dunhuang: An Analysis of Four Manuscripts

10.00 - 10.30                Anna Andreeva (Ghent University): Making Babies in Medieval Japan: Buddhist Ritual and Medical Formulas for Aiding Conception

10.30 - 11.00                Daniela Tan (Zurich University): Body Time: Menstruation and Concepts of the Female in Medieval Japan

11.00 - 11.30                Sujung Kim (DePauw University): Sacred Signs and Safe Labor: Childbirth Talismans in Chosŏn, Korea

11.30 – 12.30                Final discussion and Q&A with the audience


2023–2024                Team work on a joint publication: special journal issue on "Religion, medicine, and women's health in premodern East Asia"