Erica Brindley, Head of Asian Studies and Professor of Asian Studies, History and Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University, is an intellectual and cultural historian of premodern East Asia, focusing on ancient China and Vietnam. She has published extensively on a wide range of topics concerning early Chinese intellectual history, as well as on issues related to identity and imperialism in the southern borderland regions of China. Her first three books all explore the many ways thinkers envisioned the self and other in the world: Individualism in Early China: Human Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics (University of Hawaii Press, 2010); Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China (State University of New York Press, 2012); and Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c.400 BCE – 50 CE (Cambridge University Press, 2015). With Rowan Flad (archaeology), she is co-editor of the new multi-year series, Cambridge Elements, Ancient East Asia, which features multi-disciplinary and cutting-edge works by established experts who work on ancient East Asia. Currently, she is working on a dedicated study of the Later Mohists, an intellectual movement that developed quasi-military, religious groups and trained men in technical sciences, disputation, and ethics. She’s interested in their perceived project of standardizing, organizing, and regulating knowledge – or the “mass production of knowledge” – and how it affected technical thinking in early China. Another aspect of her current work involves rethinking the networked relationships that connected much of the southeastern parts of continental Eurasia (specifically, China south of the Yangzi River) to areas in Southeast Asia – a region she refers to as the SEAMZ (the Southeast Asian Maritime Zone). She has hosted many conferences to foster interdisciplinary discussions that explore the question of how the northern regions of the SEAMZ became “Chinese” and were incorporated over the millennia into the Chinese realm.
Author. Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c.400 BCE - 50 CE. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Author. Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China. State University of New York Press, 2012.
Author. Individualism in Early China: Human Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics. University of Hawaii Press, 2010.
Editor. China’s South and Beyond: The Southeast Asian Maritime Zone (SEAMZ) in Premodern History (~200 BCE through 1500). Special volume and “Introduction” in Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Asian Interactions 19 (2020), pp. 131-137.
Co-editor with On-cho Ng. Asian Empires and Imperialism. Special volume and “Editors’ Introduction” (vi-xiii) in Verge: Studies in Global Asias 2.2 (Fall, 2016): 1-220.
“The Concept of ‘Educational Transformation’ and its Relationship to Civilizing Missions in Early China,” Journal of Chinese History 5 (2021): 1-21.
“Capturing the World in Words: Later Mohist Hermeneutic Theories on Language and Disputation,” Early China 43 (2020), 1-19.
Awards and Services:
American Council of Learned Societies/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, “Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society” conference grant, 2019.
Tang Center for Early China, workshop grant, 2018.
Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, 2013-2016.
International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) Book Award for Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony: “Reading Committee Accolade: Specialist Publication in the Humanities,” 2013.
American Council of Learned Societies/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, “ComparativePerspectives on Chinese Culture and Society” conference grant, 2013.
American Council of Learned Societies, Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, 2011-2012.
Ethnicity, cross-cultural interactions, frontier history; empire-building and colonial interventions; concepts of the self and body; concepts of creativity, moral psychology, and autonomy