Associate Professor Benjamin Penny

BA (Sydney), MPhil (Cambridge), PhD (ANU)
Senior Research Fellow, Australian Centre on China in the World
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Asian History 210302
  • Studies In Eastern Religious Traditions 220406
  • History And Philosophy Of The Humanities 220207
  • Religion And Religious Studies 2204
  • Chinese Languages 200311

Research interests

Religious and spiritual movements in modern and contemporary China; the interpretation of Chinese religions; Medieval Religious Daoism; expatriate society in the Treaty Ports; new religions in Taiwan; the history of the religions of the Australian Chinese, new religious movements.


After studying at the Universities of Sydney, Cambridge, Peking and the ANU, I held a post-doctoral fellowship also at the ANU before moving to the Humanities Research Centre. Between 1999 and 2005, I worked as the first Executive Officer of the Herbert and Valmae Freilich Foundation, and in 2003 and 2004 also held a research fellowship at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research. I was appointed to the Division of Pacific and Asian History in October 2005 and later became Deputy Director of the School of Culture, History and Language on its foundation. On the establishment of the Australian Centre on China in the World I became Deputy Director, and then Director from 2015. Since 2018, I have been Senior Resaerch Fellow in the Centre.

Career highlights

Foundation editor, Humanities Research; Foundation Executive Officer and Board Member, Herbert and Valmae Freilich Foundation; Harold White Research Fellow, National Library of Australia; The Charles Strong Memorial Trust Annual Lecturer for the Australian Association of Religious Studies; Fellowship at the Kyoto University Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyusho; Editorship of East Asian History; Overseeing the design and construction of the Australian Centre on China in the World building; Directorship of the Australian Centre on China in the World.


Return to top

Updated:  08 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers