Francesco Bianchini researches the interactions between knowledge systems and social institutions in premodern societies, with a focus on the Sanskritic civilization of Southern Asia and the role of religion (especially Buddhism). He is also interested in the transmission of Indic cultures along the (maritime) Silk Routes and into China. The starting point of his enquiries are language-based practices and epistemologies, which he attempts to contextualize through an interdisciplinary approach and an attention to materiality.
Francesco earned a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2020, with a dissertation on conservatism and innovation in medieval Buddhist scriptural traditions (900-1200 CE). His studies were supported by a Clarendon scholarship and a St John’s College/RCUK scholarship. At Oxford, he taught courses on Buddhism (early history and doctrines) as well as on royal patronage of religion in the Gupta and post-Gupta periods.
Francesco has collaborated with a number of research projects in the UK and the EU, most recently with the Leiden-based ERC project ‘OpenPhilology’. From March to December 2015, he was employed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences on the FWF-funded project ‘Visions of Community’ (VISCOM), which entailed a comparative exploration of the role of religion in the formation of medieval communities.
Earlier, he studied Sanskrit in Varanasi (India), earning a diploma from Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya and collaborating with the Abhinavagupta Research Library.