Show/hide main menu

Visiting researchers

Professor Ian Harris

Professor Ian HarrisVisiting Professor of Buddhist Studies

Address: Department of Theology & Religious Studies
King's College London
Virginia Woolf Building,
22 Kingsway



Ian Harris joined King’s in June 2013. He is a keen organic gardener and hill-walker. Educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Lancaster, he holds a doctorate in Buddhist Studies from the latter. Initially a student of Buddhist philosophy, his current academic interests focus on the modern and contemporary history of the Cambodian monastic order (sangha), Buddhism and politics in Southeast Asia, Buddhist environmentalism, and landscape aesthetics.

He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cumbria and current President of the UK Association of Buddhist Studies [UKABS], having also held visiting positions at the University of Oxford, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, the National University of Singapore and Dongguk University, Seoul.

From 2003-2007 he was a senior scholar at the Documentary Center of Cambodia [DC Cam] in Phnom Penh leading a small team of researchers investigating the fate of Buddhist monks during the Pol Pot period. Some of this work has fed into the ongoing tribunal into alleged serious crimes committed by senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

During 2011-12 he was the Tun Lin Kok Yuen Distinguished Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto. More recently he has been assisting in reviving the Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, Cambodia's pre-eminent institution of monastic education.

Research interests
  • Buddhism in Cambodia and Southeast Asia
  • Buddhism [understood in its widest cultural and historical ramifications] and politics
  • Buddhism and environmental ethics
  • Buddhism in western culture, with particular emphasis on music, literature and the fine arts

Ian is currently working on two writing projects:

  • A wide-ranging historical survey and typological analysis of interactions between Asian Buddhist monastic orders and the political realm
  • A history of the Cambodian Buddhist sangha (1866-1970)
Selected publications

Single-authored books

  • Buddhism in a Dark Age: Cambodian Monks Under Pol Pot Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013.
  • Buddhism Under Pol Pot Phnom Penh: Documentary Center of Cambodia, 2007.
  • Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
  • The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Early Mahāyāna Buddhism Leiden: Brill, 1991

Edited volumes

  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhism London: Lorenz, 2009
  • Buddhism, Power and Politics in Southeast Asia London: Routledge, 2007
  • Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth Century Asia London: Cassell, 1999

Some recent articles and book chapters

  • ‘Buddhism in Cambodia’ in Oliver Abenayaka, Asanga Tilakaratne(eds.) 2600 Years of Sambuddhatva: Global Journey of Awakening Colombo: Ministry of Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka, 2012; pp. 201-212
  • ‘Buddhism, Politics and Nationalism’ in David L. McMahan (ed.) Buddhism in the Modern World London and New York: Routledge, 2012 ; pp. 175-194
  • ‘Rethinking Cambodian political discourse on territory: genealogy of the Buddhist ritual boundary (sīmā)’ Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 41/2 (2010), 215-239
  • ‘Theravāda Buddhism among the Khmer Krom’ in Daryn Reicherter and Joshua Cooper (eds.) The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-determination Pennsauken, NJ: Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation, 2009. pp. 103-129
  • ‘Something Rotten in the State of Buddhaland: Good Governance in Theravāda Buddhism’ in Charles Prebish and John Powers (eds.) Destroying Māra Forever: Buddhist Ethics Essays in Honor of Damien Keown Ithaca: Snow Lion. 2009; 221-236
  • ‘The Monk and the King: Khieu Chum and Regime Change in Cambodia’ Udaya: Journal of Khmer Studies 9 (2008), 81-112.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Accessibility Recruitment News Centre Contact us

© 2014 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454