Cuong Mai


Cuong Mai specializes in the religions of Asia, particularly the history of Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhism. He completed his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at Columbia University, an MA at the University of Hawaii, and the Ph.D. degree in Religious Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He previously taught at the University of Vermont in the Department of Religion.

His research focuses on the emergence of mortuary practices and paradise beliefs surrounding the Buddha figures Amitabha and Maitreya in early medieval China. Describing his research, he states "My approach to the study of religion is multidisciplinary, and my courses frequently incorporate the study of funerary customs, traditions of asceticism, religious festivals, beliefs concerning the afterlife, spirit mediumship, cults of saints and divine beings, and aspects of material culture." A second, long-term project will focus on the worship of Quan Am Bodhisattva (Guanyin) as seen in folktales and folk operas in early modern Vietnamese Buddhism and popular religion. Click HERE for a complete listing of publications.

At ASU Professor Mai offers courses on Buddhism, Religion and Contemporary Issues, and Death, Grieving and Immortality, as well as courses on religion and ritual, and religion, sexuality, and gender.


Indiana University – Bloomington. Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies. Dissertation: "Visualization Apocrypha and the Making of Buddhist Deity Cults in Early Medieval China." John R. McRae, Dissertation Adviser

University of Hawaii at Manoa. M.A., Department of Religion. Thesis: “Rituals of Salvation: the Vietnamese Cult of the Dead and its Zen Buddhist Rites.”

Columbia University. B.A., Department of Religion



  • “The Karma of Love: Buddhist Discourse in Confucian and Daoist Voices in Vietnamese Tales of the Marvellous and Strange,” Journal of Vietnamese Studies 16.3 (August 2021): 1-77. 
  • “The Guanyin Fertility Cult in Late Imperial China: Repertoires across Domains in the Practice of Popular Religion,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 87.1 (March 2019): 156-190.
  • “How Not to Become a Ghost: Tales of Female Suicide Martyrs in Sixteenth-Century Vietnamese Transmission of Marvels (truyen ky).” Candi Cann, ed., The Routledge Handbook on Death and the Afterlife (2018), pgs. 240-261.
  • "Religions of Vietnam," Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices (Gale, 2014).
  • "Buddhism" and "Early Buddhism", encyclopedia entries for Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia, Orlando Patterson and J. Geoffrey Golson, eds., (SAGE Reference, 2012).
  • "Religious Traditions of Vietnam: A Brief Survey," in Awakening the Dragon, edited by Dr. Carl Hefner (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1996), pp.18-25. (Museum exhibition pamphlet).
  • "Vietnamese Buddhist Death Rites: Historical, Social and Cultural Contexts," in Living and Dying in Buddhist Cultures, edited by Dr. David W. Chappell and Karma Lekshe Tsomo (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, Department of Asian Studies, 1995), pp. 37-47. (Unpublished conference proceedings).
Title: Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-7115

Office address
I. G. Greer Hall 117