Current research themes:

. History and historiography of academic Sinology and Western representations of Chinese culture / Histoire et historiographie de la sinologie académique et des représentations occidentales de la culture chinoise

. History, philology and textual criticism of “Weft” (wei 緯) literature / Histoire, philologie et ecdotique des “Livres de trame”

. Taoism (also spelt ‘Daoism’) in medieval China: History, historiography, sources / Le taoïsme en Chine médiévale : Histoire, historiographie, sources


Habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR) awarded 11 June 2019, École Pratique des Hautes Études, France. – Original research manuscript: “La religiosité de l’Autre: Essai sur les représentations religieuses en Chine au haut Moyen-Âge et leur interprétation sinologique”. Jury members: V. Goossaert / M. Lackner / P. Marsone / M. Nylan / F. Verellen / N. Zufferey.

Ph.D. (Doctorat) in Far Eastern Studies awarded 28 May 2002, Université Paris Diderot, France. – Thesis: “Cosmologie et trifonctionnalité dans l’idéologie du Livre de la Grande paix (Taiping jing)”. Supervised by I. Robinet (1932–2000) then J. Lagerwey. Jury members: C. Despeux / M. Kalinowski / J. Lagerwey / C. Mac Moran / F. Martin.

Master of Advanced Studies (DEA) in Comparative History awarded 25 June 1996, Institut d’Histoire Comparée des Civilisations, Aix-en-Provence, France. – Dissertation: “Cosmologie, idéologie et politique dans la Chine ancienne: Une introduction critique au Taiping jing”. Supervised by I. Robinet. Jury members: I. Robinet / J.-L. Triaud.

M.A. (Maîtrise) in Chinese Studies awarded September 1994, Université de Provence, France. – Thesis: “Une étude philosophique et littéraire du Sunzi: Pour une nouvelle approche de l’Art de la Guerre de Sun Wu”. Supervised by I. Robinet.

Other Publications

Journal articles:

2018. “The Invention of Buddho-Taoism: Critical Historiography of a Western Neologism, 1940s–2010s”. Asiatische Studien / Études asiatiques, 72 (4): 1059-1098. doi.org/10.1515/asia-2016-0061

2016. “Sketching out Portents Classification and Logic in the Monographs of Han Official Historiography”. Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung / Bochum Yearbook of East Asian Studies, 39: 5–38. oaw.rub.de/viewer.html?file=BJOAF2016.pdf

2015. “A Case Study on the Evolution of Chinese Religious Symbols from Talismanic Paraphernalia to Taoist Liturgy”. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 78 (3): 493–514. doi.org/10.1017/S0041977X15000439

2014. “Epiphanies of Sovereignty and the Rite of Jade Disc Immersion in Weft Narratives”. Early China, 37: 393–443. doi.org/10.1017/eac.2013.2

2014. “Local Resistance in Early Medieval Chinese Historiography and the Problem of Religious Overinterpretation”. The Literary Subversive: Writings of Resistance in East Asian History. Edited by D. Steavu. Special issue of The Medieval History Journal, 17 (2): 379–406. doi.org/10.1177/0971945814544827

2013. “The Date, Authorship, and Literary Structure of the Great Peace Scripture Digest”. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 133 (2): 321–351. jstor.org/stable/10.7817/jameroriesoci.133.2.0321

2009. “Les Directives secrètes du Saint Seigneur du Livre de la Grande paix et la préservation de l’unité”. T’oung Pao, 95 (1–3): 1–50. jstor.org/stable/27867953

2004. “À vau-l’eau, à rebours ou l’ambivalence de la logique triadique dans l’idéologie du Taiping jing”. In Memoriam Isabelle Robinet (1932–2000). Edited by M. Esposito / H. Durt. Special issue of Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, 14: 61–95. jstor.org/stable/44160391

2002. “Criminalized Abnormality, Moral Etiology, and Redemptive Suffering in the Secondary Strata of the Taiping jing”. Asia Major, Third Series, 15 (2): 1–50. jstor.org/stable/41649864

2002. “Revelation between Orality and Writing in Early Imperial China: The Epistemology of the Taiping jing”. Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 74: 66–100.

Book chapters:

(forthcoming). “Portents in Early Imperial China: Observational Patterns from the ‘Spring and Autumn’ Weft Profoundly Immersed Herptile”. In: Divination and the Strange: Constructing Fate in Pre- and Early Modern East Asia and Europe. Edited by S. Katz.

2015. “Prenatal Infancy Regained: Great Peace (Taiping) Views on Procreation and Life Cycles”. In: Transforming the Void: Embryological Discourse and Reproductive Imagery in East Asian Religions. Edited by A. Andreeva / D. Steavu. (Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series, vol. 16). Leiden: Brill. Pages 53–86. 10.1163/9789004306523_003

2009. “Latter Han Religious Mass Movements and the Early Daoist Church”. In: Early Chinese Religion, Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC–220 AD). Edited by J. Lagerwey / M. Kalinowski. (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 4 China, vol. 21/1). Leiden: Brill. Pages 1061–1102. 10.1163/ej.9789004168350.i-1312.158

2007. “Le manuscrit Stein 4226 Taiping bu juan di er dans l’histoire du taoïsme médiéval”. In: Études de Dunhuang et Turfan. Edited by J.-P. Drège / O. Venture. (Hautes Études Orientales, Extrême-Orient, vol. 41/6). Geneva: Droz. Pages 189–256.

Research notes:

(forthcoming). “Sources pour l’histoire du taoïsme”. In: L’Encyclopédie des historiographies (Afriques, Amériques, Asies). Paris: Presses de l’INALCO.

(forthcoming). A hundred biographical notes (in French). In: Dictionnaire biographique du haut Moyen-Âge chinois. Edited by F. Martin / D. Chaussende. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

2012. “Yuanshi shuo xiantian daode jing zhujie”, “Yuanshi tianzun shuo yaowang jiu bashiyi nan zhenjing”, “Taishang zhongdao miaofa lianhua jing”, “Taishang miaoshi jing”, “Zhenzhong jing”, “Taishang dongzhen xianmen jing”, “Zhongtian ziwei xingzhen baochan”, “Huangshi gong sushu” (in English). In: 道蔵輯要と明清時代の宗教文化 [The Daozang Jiyao and Religious Culture in the Ming-Qing Dynasties]. Research report edited by K. Mugitani. Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University. Pages 3–6, 14–16, 20–24, 42–45, 45–48, 56–59, 76–79.

2008. “Bao Jing”, “Dong Sijing”, “Dongfang Shuo”, “Du Daojian”, “Nie Shidao”, “Ning Benli”, “Sun En”, “Tao Hongjing”, “Wang Wenqing”, “Yang Xi”, “Zheng Yin”. In: The Encyclopedia of Taoism. Edited by F. Pregadio. London: Routledge. Pages 211–212, 365–367, 383–384, 773–774, 924–925, 968–971, 1017, 1147–1148, 1250–1251.


2001. Unsigned entries (450) on Taoism (in French). In: Grand Dictionnaire Ricci de la langue chinoise. Edited by Les Instituts Ricci de Paris et de Taipei. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. 7 volumes. Passim.

Review articles:

2014. “Traditional Chinese Knowledge before the Japanese Discovery of Western Science in Gabor Lukacs’ Kaitai Shinsho & Geka Sōden”. East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, 40: 113–128. jstor.org/stable/eastasiascietech.40.113

2008. “Editing and Translating the Taiping Jing and the Great Peace Textual Corpus”. Journal of Chinese Studies / 中國文化研究所學報, 48: 469–486. cuhk.edu.hk/ics/journal/articles/v48p469.pdf


2017. The Norton Anthology of World Religions: Daoism, edited by J. Robson. Religious Studies Review, 43 (1): 33–37. doi.org/10.1111/rsr.12784

2016. Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities, by T. F. Kleeman. Religious Studies Review, 42 (4): 259–265. doi.org/10.1111/rsr.12777

2016. La Fabrique du lisible: La mise en texte des manuscrits de la Chine ancienne et médiévale, edited by J.-P. Drège / C. Moretti. Religious Studies Review, 42 (2): 134–135. doi.org/10.1111/rsr.12500

2015. Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity and Chinese Culture, by Y. Tang. Religious Studies Review, 41 (4): 211–212. doi.org/10.1111/rsr.12266_4

2014. The Chenwei Riddle: Time, Stars, and Heroes in the Apocrypha, by L. Di Giacinto. T’oung Pao, 100 (4–5): 505–511. doi.org/10.1163/15685322-10045P07

2013. Affiliation and Transmission in Daoism: A Berlin Symposium, edited by F. C. Reiter. Journal of Chinese Religions, 41 (2): 180–185. doi.org/10.1179/0737769X13Z.0000000006

2012. The Emergence of Daoism: Creation of Tradition, by G. Raz. Journal of Chinese Religions, 40: 136–142. doi.org/10.1179/jcr.2012.40.1.91

2009. Making Transcendents: Ascetics and Social Memory in Early Medieval China, by R. F. Campany. Études chinoises, 28: 279–284. afec-etudeschinoises.com/IMG/pdf/CR_final_21-01-10.pdf

2007. The Scripture on Great Peace: The Taiping jing and the Beginnings of Daoism, by B. Hendrischke. Études chinoises, 26: 327–336. afec-etudeschinoises.com/IMG/pdf/Comptes-rendus.pdf

2006. “L’itinéraire de Marco Polo dans sa traversée de la Chine”, by Ph. Ménard. Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 93: 517–522. jstor.org/stable/43734062

2002. Chinese Magical Medicine, by M. Strickmann. Revue Bibliographique de Sinologie, Nouvelle Série, 20: 443–444. jstor.org/stable/24584554

2002. Taiping jing zhengdu 太平經正讀, by L. Yu. Revue Bibliographique de Sinologie, Nouvelle Série, 20: 361–362. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24584446

2002. A Concordance to the Taiping jing / 太平經逐字索引, edited by D. C. Lau. Revue Bibliographique de Sinologie, Nouvelle Série, 20: 360–361. jstor.org/stable/24584444

Seminar abstracts:

2011. “Le corpus des citations du Livre de la Grande paix du Ve au XVe siècle”. Annuaire de l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des Sciences Religieuses, 118 (2009–2010): 35–43. asr.revues.org/934

2010. “Le Livre de la Grande paix et son corpus: Histoire et structure littéraires, idéologie”. Annuaire de l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des Sciences Religieuses, 117 (2008–2009): 39–47. asr.revues.org/780

French translations from Chinese (credited):

2008. Chinese and Japanese sources. In: Kaitai Shinsho: The Single Most Famous Japanese Book of Medicine & Geka Sōden: An Early Very Important Manuscript on Surgery, by G. Lukacs. Utrecht: Hes & De Graaf. Chapter 11, pages 119–164.

2007. “Le début de la diffusion des techniques d’imprimerie occidentales en Chine à la fin des Qing: L’exemple de l’introduction du procédé lithographique”, by Q. Han. Histoire et Civilisation du Livre: Revue Internationale, 3: 135–152.

2006. Programme national des archives numériques 2005, edited by D.-T. Lee. Taipei: Taiwan National Science Council. 48 pages.

2005. “Caractéristiques et fonctions du livre chinois ancien d’après les principales catégories d’ouvrages traditionnels”, by D. Xiao / H. Yang. In: Actes du Colloque franco-chinois Chine-Europe: Histoires de livres (VIIIe/XVe-XXe s.). National Library of China, Beijing. Pages 28–41.

2005. Full contents of Chinese manuscript Or.8210/S.4226 and bibliography. The International Dunhuang Project (IDP). (Online) http://idp.bnf.fr/database/oo_cat.a4d?shortref=Espesset_2005&catno=1.


2018–: “Religions et sociétés en Asie: Recompositions, circulations, sécularisations du religieux” (C. Gyss / M.-D. Even). Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL), Paris, France.

2015–2017: “Histoire et historiens de la Chine classique” (D. Chaussende / B. L’Haridon). Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale (CRCAO), Paris, France.

2014–2016: “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe” (V. Krech). Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany.

2012–2017: “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication: Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe” (M. Lackner). International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), Erlangen, Germany.

2010–2017: “The Daozang Jiyao 道臧輯要 Project” (M. Esposito / C. T. Lai). Kyoto University, Japan / The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.

2010–2016: “Individus, groupes humains et société dans le haut Moyen-Âge chinois” (F. Martin). Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale (CRCAO), Paris, France.

2006–2008: “三教交渉の研究 [Research on the Interactions between the Three Teachings]” (K. Mugitani). Kyoto University, Japan.

2003–2005: “宗教與醫療 [Religion and Healing]” (F.-S. Lin). Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

2002–2006: “Rituels, panthéons et techniques: Histoire de la religion chinoise avant les Tang” (J. Lagerwey). UMR 8583 Civilisation Chinoise, then Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale (CRCAO) / Ministère de la Recherche, Paris, France.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

2019: “Divination and Prophecy in the Earliest Attested Weft Writings” (working title). Workshop Divination in Chinese Religions, Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung (IKGF), Erlangen, Germany, December 11–12 (to be confirmed).


2018–: Associate Doctor (Docteur associé). Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL), UMR 8582 (EPHE / CNRS / PSL Research University), Paris, France.

2016–2017: Sub-Editor (Section East Asia/China). Religious Studies Review, Rice University, USA.

2014–2016: Research Fellow (2014–2015), then Research Associate (2016). Käte Hamburger College (KHK), Bochum, Germany.

2012–2017: Visiting Fellow (2012–2013), then Research Partner (2014–2017). International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), Erlangen, Germany.

2011–2012: Associate Research Fellow. Institute for History and Philology (IHP), Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

2008–2017: Associate Member (Membre associé). Centre de Recherche sur les Civilisations de l’Asie Orientale (CRCAO), Paris, France.

2008–2010: Temporary Teaching and Research Attaché (Attaché temporaire d’enseignement et de recherche). École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), Paris, France.

2006–2008: Postdoctoral Fellow. Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Japan.

2003–2005: Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. Institute for History and Philology (IHP), Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

Grégoire Espesset

Profile picture of Grégoire Espesset


active 2 days, 17 hours ago