The Historical Social Network of Chinese Buddhism


  • Marcus Bingenheimer Temple University



The Historical Social Network of Chinese Buddhism is a large dataset consisting of c. 17,500 actors and c. 25,000 links. The data was collected between 2007 and 2020 as part of various projects at Dharma Drum, a major Buddhist organization in Taiwan. It is based on two main sources: marked-up biographical literature, and the Buddhist Person Authority Database. The main component of the network begins in the late 3rd century and ends with actors in the early 20th. The network serves as a research tool at different levels of historical reflection. On the micro-level, researchers can explore the ego-networks of persons of interest as they were embedded in the larger Buddhist networks of their time. On the meso-level, researchers can focus on certain periods and discern relevant communities and the communication lines between them. On the macro-level, the network can reveal long-term historical structures within Chinese Buddhism, and can provide quantitative evidence for or against previous statements about the longue durée of Chinese Buddhism. This article relates why and how the data was collected, addresses its problems and limitations, as well as its potential for future research. The Historical Network of Chinese Buddhism is extensible, e.g. by including Korean and Japanese actors, or by importing data from the China Biographical Database Project or Wikidata. The dataset, as well as its sources, is published with documentation on GitHub under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 license and is ready for use in open source social network analysis tools such as Gephi or Cytoscape.




How to Cite

Bingenheimer, M. (2021) “The Historical Social Network of Chinese Buddhism”, Journal of Historical Network Research. Luxembourg, 5(1). doi: 10.25517/jhnr.v5i1.119.