Women rulers and how they legitimate themselves in different regions and times
April D. Hughes received her Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University in 2014. She completed M.A. degrees in East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research situates medieval Chinese religion within broader cultural and social contexts. She is especially interested in medieval Chinese Buddhist manuscripts and mural paintings discovered at Dunhuang (northwest China). Her current book project is entitled “Personifying the Buddha: Politics, Gender, and Religion in Medieval China.” Over and against the assumption that political authority was argued chiefly in Confucian terms, the book investigates the different symbol systems (Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist) that emperors employed to validate their reigns. Specifically, the book highlights the centrality of Buddhism to Chinese notions of kingship, since both emperors and rebels sometimes solidified claims to the imperial throne by declaring themselves Buddhas incarnate, descended to earth in order to rule and revive Buddhist Teachings.