Michael Ing, assistant professor of religious studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, won a Junior Scholars Grant from The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. Ing will receive $30,000 to study “Vulnerabilities of the Self in Early Confucianism.”
“We are delighted and proud that Michael Ing has received this well-deserved recognition of his important work,” said Winnifred Sullivan, professor and chair of the Religious Studies department.
The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, named in honor of the late President of the Republic of China Chiang Ching-kuo, was established in 1989. The foundation has funded more than 3,000 research projects in more than 60 countries. Each year, approximately $4.5 million is distributed in grants.
Ing received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2011 and has served as a visiting scholar for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, before coming to IU in 2011.
He said the application process for the grant included a nine-page description of his project. Ing said he was elated to win the award, and that in the field of China-studies, the grant is a very prestigious award.
Ing said the CCK Foundation has nearly 500 applicants for all of its programs each year, but only award a handful of Junior Scholar grants.
With his grant money, Ing said he will be able to work on his next book full time. He said he will explore the plurality of Confucian thought as it relates to vulnerability.
“In particular, I give attention to neglected voices, which argue that our concern for others can, and even should, lead us to compromise our integrity,” Ing said. “In cases, we are compelled to do something transgressive for the sake of others, and, in these situations, our character is tarnished by our culpability in the transgressive act.”
He said “Vulnerabilities of the Self” will draw from a larger array of early Confucian sources brought into dialogue with contemporary scholarship on ethics and death studies, among other fields of inquiry.
“On a smaller scale, this project will challenge the dominant view of Confucian self-cultivation as invulnerable to misfortune, but on a larger scale, it will broaden the field of Confucian thought by bringing neglected texts to bear on contemporary philosophical issues,” Ing said.
Ing said he thinks “Vulnerabilities of the Self” will reveal value in vulnerability. He said it will show the risks associated with living a good life, and that living a life without risk is a life not worth living.
“A vulnerable self is a permeable and precarious self, yet the self can only be cultivated by opening up to relationships with other people,” Ing said.
Ing said he hopes his book helps others, especially IU students, learn more about Confucian ideas in combination with contemporary ideas.
“IU has a long history of being one of the preeminent places to come and study Chinese religion, and I hope to continue this history,” he said.
In addition to Ing, Tie Xiao, assistant professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Culture, was also awarded a Junior Scholar Grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. He said his research project is titled “In the Name of the Masses: Imagining Crowds in Modern China, 1900-1950.”