Jack Meng-Tat Chia is Assistant Professor of History and Religious Studies at the National University of Singapore. He is a historian of religion whose research has focused on Buddhism and Chinese popular religion. He specializes in Buddhism in maritime Southeast Asia and has broader research interests in migration, diasporas, transnationalism, pilgrimage, and religious diplomacy. He is the author of Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity Across the South China Sea (Oxford, 2020; paperback 2021), which was awarded the 2021 EuroSEAS Humanities Book Prize. The book was translated into Indonesian under the title Kiprah Para Mahabiksu: Agama Buddha dan Modernitas di Asia Tenggara Maritim (Karaniya, 2022). He has also published articles in journals such as Asian Ethnology, China Quarterly, Contemporary Buddhism, Critical Asian Studies, History of Religions, and Journal of Chinese Religions. He is currently working on two book projects: Beyond the Borobudur: Buddhism in Postcolonial Indonesia and Diplomatic Dharma: Buddhist Diplomacy in Modern Asia.
Chia is an associate of the Religion and Globalization Cluster at the Asia Research Institute and a steering committee member of the Belt and Road Initiative Cluster at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He co-chairs the Theravada Studies Group of the Association for Asian Studies. He is a member of the National Heritage Board (Singapore)’s Heritage Advisory Panel. He is an editor of Asian Culture and an assistant editor of Journal of Global Buddhism. He also serves on the editorial boards of Contemporary Buddhism, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Reading Religion, Studies on Humanistic Buddhism, and Yin-Cheng Journal of Buddhism and Contemporary Society.
Born and raised in Singapore, Chia received his PhD in History at Cornell University, where his dissertation won the Lauriston Sharp Prize. He earned his BA (Hons) and MA in History from the National University of Singapore and his second MA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, where he was a Harvard-Yenching Fellow. Prior to joining NUS, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Buddhist Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
He is married to Dr. Ming-Yen Lee, a Senior Lecturer of Music at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.