Minhao Zhai

Minhao Zhai
Assistant Professor of Global China Studies

Minhao Zhai is an Assistant Professor of Global China Studies at NYU Shanghai. He received his BA and MA from Fudan University. After that, He studied Chinese religion at Princeton and got his doctorate in 2022. His dissertation explores how Buddhism, as an imported religion, contributed to the formation of talismanic culture in medieval China.

Minhao is currently working on a book manuscript based on his dissertation. In the book, by employing both transmitted Buddhist texts and medieval manuscripts from Dunhuang, he reveals how different religious elements, home or foreign, were creatively utilized in the making, using, and understanding of talismans in medieval China. The book also aims to participate in the broader conversation on empowered objects in religions.

In addition, Minhao is also interested in the medieval religious texts produced not for being read. Minhao’s research has been presented both in AAR and IABS (International Association of Buddhist Studies).



  • PhD, Religion
    Princeton University
  • MA, Religion
    Princeton University
  • MA, Pre-modern Chinese History
    Fudan University
  • BA, History
    Fudan University

Research Interests

  • Chinese Buddhism

  • Chinese Religion

  • Dunhuang & Turfan Manuscripts

  • Silk Road

  • Buddhist Rituals