During his studies, Silk spent several years in Japan. After his PhD, he became Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa and in 1995 at the Department of Comparative Religion of the Western Michigan University. From 1998 until 2002 he taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, and from 2002 in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Since 2007 he has been Professor in the study of Buddhism at Leiden. In 2010 he was awarded a VICI grant from the NWO (Dutch National Science Foundation) for project: “Buddhism and Social Justice.” In 2016 he was elected as a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen [KNAW]).
Currently, Silk is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. He specializes in Buddhism in its Asian contexts, primarily from a historical point of view. He has a special interest in Buddhist scriptures.
Research: Silk’s scientific orientation on Buddhism is very broad, in time as well as geographically: his interest covers the oldest primary sources and the rise of Buddhist communities all over Asia, but he is equally interested in the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia. Silk reads Sanskrit, Pāli, , Classic Tibetan, Classic Chinese, and Japanese.
Recent publications: 2016 - Materials Toward the Study of Vasubandhu’s Viṁśikā (I): Sanskrit and Tibetan Critical Editions of the Verses and Autocommentary; An English Translation and Annotations. Harvard Oriental Series 81 (Cambridge MA: Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University).
2015 - Buddhist Cosmic Unity: An Edition, Translation and Study of the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśaparivarta. Hamburg Buddhist Studies 4 (Hamburg: Hamburg University Press). Indian Buddhist Monasticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
2015 - Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Volume I: Literature and Languages. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section Two, India, 29/1. Leiden: Brill. (editor)
2013 - Buddhism in China: Collected Papers of Erik Zürcher. Sinica Leidensia 112 (Leiden: Brill). (co-editor) (Source Accessed Aug 5, 2020)
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Affiliations & relations
- Leiden University, Netherlands · workplace affiliation