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Ruixuan Chen awarded the 2020 Ernst Waldschmidt Prize



22 December 2020

Ernst Waldschmidt Prize commemorates the world-renowned German Indologist and doyen of Turfan Studies (Turfanforschung) in Germany
Ernst Waldschmidt (1897–1985). It is awarded every five years by the
Stiftung Ernst Waldschmidt at the
Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin) for outstanding contributions in the field of Indology, in particular in Ernst Waldschmidt’s areas of specialization (i.e., Buddhism and Indian and Central Asian archaeology and art). The prize is aimed at supporting early-career researchers in Germany and amounts to €5,000.

Dr. Ruixuan Chen, the assistant professor of
Buddhist Studies at the HCTS, was awarded the 2020 Ernst Waldschmidt Prize for his doctoral dissertation on “
The Nandimitrāvadāna: A Living Text from the Buddhist Tradition”, which he defended at Leiden University in 2018. The award ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic and will presumably take place in Berlin at the beginning of 2021.

Chen´s dissertation is the first monographic study of the textual sources of the Indian Buddhist text Nandimitrāvadāna, which constitutes the foundational narrative of the cult of the sixteen Arhats prevailing in Central Asia and East Asia. It is also the first systematic disquisition on a living text from the Buddhist tradition. Through a close philological and historical analysis of the Khotanese, Tibetan, and Chinese versions of the Nandimitrāvadāna, the author draws attention to the interplay between textual formation and cultic practice, and sheds light on the reception of the narrative in various cultural spheres.

In 2020, Dr. Ruixuan Chen was also awarded a four-month in-residence fellowship offered by the 
Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS) at 
Peking University in Beijing. He will conduct his research at the IHSS during the summer semester 2021. The 
IHSS Fellow Programme, which supports approximately fourty scholars every year, promotes advanced interdisciplinary research and international exchange in all the subjects of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr. Ruixuan Chen is assistant professor at the
HCTS Chair of Buddhist Studies. His main field of specialization is the history of Buddhism in ancient and early medieval South and Central Asia. He focuses on the processes of scriptural formation and the dynamics between religious ideas and practices against the backdrop of the transmission of Buddhism along the ancient Silk Routes.