Rafal K Stepien

Rafal Stepien

Professional Appointments

Berggruen Research Fellow in Indian Philosophy
Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK, 2016 – 2018
Full member, Faculty of Philosophy
Associate member, Faculty of Oriental Studies
Fellow, Berggruen Philosophy & Culture Center

Assistant Professor of Asian Religions
Hampshire College, USA, 2015 – Present (on leave 2016 – 2018)
School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies

Ho Center for Buddhist Studies Postdoctoral Scholar
Stanford University, USA, 2015 – 2017 (declined)
Inaugural recipient of fellowship awarded once every two years to a single scholar in all fields of Buddhist studies who is up to five years out from completion of the Ph.D.


M.A., M.Phil. & Ph.D. Columbia University (2009 - 2015)
East Asian Languages and Cultures ~ Religion
Inaugural Cihui Foundation Faculty Fellow in Chinese Buddhism

M.Phil. Robinson College, University of Cambridge (Distinction) (2008 – 2009)
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies ~ Persian
Soudavar Memorial Research Scholar in Persian Studies

B.A. & M.A. Institute for Chinese Studies & Wadham College, University of Oxford (2004 – 2008)
Oriental Studies ~ Chinese

B.A. University of Western Australia (1996 – 1999)
Double Major in English and Philosophy
S. A. Grave Prize in Philosophy


  1. Twelve Gates to the Middle Way: Buddhism between India and China in Nāgārjuna’s ‘Twelve Gates Treatise’. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, ‘Classics in East Asian Buddhism’ Series, 2017 (under advance contract).
  2. Buddhist Literature as Philosophy, Buddhist Philosophy as Literature. (under review).

Representative Articles

  1. Catuṣkoṭi? Si Ju (四句)? Tetralemma? A Study of Hermeneutic Strategies in Sanskrit-, Chinese-, and European-Language Interpreters of Nāgārjuna (龍樹)’ (forthcoming).
  2. ‘The Original Mind is the Literary Mind, the Original Body Carves Dragons’ (forthcoming).
  3. Review of Lin, Chen-kuo and Radich, Michael (eds.). A Distant Mirror: Articulating Indic Ideas in Sixth and Seventh Century Chinese Buddhism (Hamburg: Hamburg University Press, 2014). Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Vol. 11. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 2016.
  4. ‘The Imagery of Emptiness in the Poetry of Wang Wei (王維 699-761)’. Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, Vol. 16, No. 2. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014.
  5. ‘Rūmī, Balkhī, Mevlevī: The Ambiguities of Identity in the Poetry of Jālāl al-Dīn Muḥammad (1207-1272 CE)’. Michałak, Mirosław and Zaborowska. Magdalena (eds.). In Quest of Identity: Studies on the Persianate World. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Akademnickie Dialog, 2015.
  6. ‘A Study in Sufi Poetics: The Case of ʿAṭṭār Nayshābūrī’. Oriens 41.1. Leiden: Brill, 2013.