Anne Hansen

Position title: Department Chair; Allan H. Selig Distinguished Leadership Professor of History


Chair Office: 3211 Mosse Humanities
Office: 5114 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 5030 Mosse Humanities
608.263.1807 (Chair)
608.263.2394 (Office)

Anne Hansen


I am a historian of religion with research interests in the history of Buddhist ethical ideas and modern religious reform and social justice movements in Southeast Asia, Cold War Buddhism, colonial Buddhism, and religion and visual culture. Much of my work focuses on Buddhist ethics of care and/or “local” interpretations and expressions of Theravada Buddhist thought within larger transnational or transregional networks. My current projects include work on Buddhist visual ethics of care in nineteenth and twentieth century Cambodia, as well as a study of Buddhist temporality during the Cold War in modern Southeast Asia. I regularly teach courses on Buddhism, Asian religions, transnational religion, Southeast Asian colonialisms and modernities, and theory and method in the study of religion.


Ph.D., Harvard University
M.A., Harvard University
M.Div., Harvard Divinity School
B.A ., St. Olaf College


Selected Publications

  • “Reform: Ideas and Events in Modern Theravāda Reformism,” with Anthony Lovenheim Irwin, in Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism, edited by Stephen C. Berkwitz and Ashley Thompson, pages 83-98. (Routledge, 2022).
  • “Buddhist Ethics: Modes of Interpretation,” in Encyclopedia of Religious Ethics: Wiley Blackwell Companions to Religion, vol. 2, edited by William Schweiker, Maria Antonaccio, Elizabeth Bucar, and David A. Clairmont, pages 861-873. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2022).
  • “Buddhist Religion-making in Colonial Cambodia,” in Liber Amicorum. Mélanges réunis en hommage à Ang Chouléan, edited by Grégory Mikaelian, Ashley Thompson, and Siyonn Sophearith, pages 391-411. (Paris: Association Péninsule/Association des Amis de Yosothor, 2020).
  • “Poverty and the Poor in Buddhist Thought,” with Jordan Baskerville, in The Meaning of Poverty and the Poor in the World’s Religions, edited by William Brackney and Rupen Das, pages 110-148. (ABC-Clio, 2019).
  • “Buddhist Communities of Belonging in Early Twentieth Century Cambodia,” in Buddhist Encounters with Modernity, Theravāda Civilizations Project volume 1, edited by Steven Collins and Juliane Schober, pages 62-77. (London and New York: Routledge Press, 2017).
  • “Painting Ethics: Death, Love, and Moral Vision in the Mahāparinibbāna,” Journal of Religious Ethics 44.1 (2016): 17-50, 2016. Part of a symposium on “Visual Ethics” edited by Elizabeth Bucar, with accompanying essays by Kenneth George and Elizabeth Bucar.

Advisor To

Selected Awards

  • American Council for Learned Societies Robert H.N. Ho Fellowship in Buddhist Studies, When Religion Ends: Buddhist Prophetic Temporality in Cold War Southeast (August 2019-June 2020)
  • Center for Khmer Studies/American Overseas Research Center Senior Research Fellowship, When Religion Ends: Buddhist Prophetic Temporality in Cold War Southeast (June-August 2019)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers, Invited Faculty, “Colonial Experiences and their Legacies,” East-West Center and University of Hawaii, Honolulu (June 2019)
  • President, Midwest Council for Asian Affairs (2017); Past President (2018); Vice-President (2016)
  • Institute for Research in the Humanities Residential Fellowship, University of Wisconsin Madison (Fall 2016)

History Courses

  • History/ReligSt/Asian 267 – Asian Religions in Global Perspective
  • History/ReligSt/Asian 308 – Introduction to Buddhism – Syllabus 2021 (pdf)
  • History/ReligSt/Asian 438 – Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History
  • History/ReligSt/Asian 547 – Religion, Colonialism and Modernity in Asia
  • History 706 – Topics in Transnational History: Religion, Modernity and Re-enchantment – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
  • History 706 – Topics in Transnational History: Transnational Religion and Social Justice Movements
  • History 710 – Professional Development Seminar: Writing Grant Proposals – Syllabus 2021 (pdf)