Dr. Friederike Assandri

Dr. Friederike Assandri

Research Fellow

Ostasiatisches Institut Sinologie
Schillerstraße 6
04109 Leipzig


Friederike Assandri is a researcher at the East Asian Institute of the University of Leipzig specialized in the interaction of Buddhism and Daoism in early medieval China. She was trained in Classical Chinese, modern Chinese, Indology and philosophy at the Universities of Heidelberg, Germany and Nanjing, China. She holds a PhD from the University of Heidelberg. She has lived for many years in China and in Italy, currently she lives in Berlin, Germany. She has worked on various aspects of the interaction of Buddhism and Chinese thought and Buddhism and Daoism. She has published widely in this field. Her current research focusses on the interaction of Daoist, Buddhist and Confucian thinkers in early Tang dynasty, with a special focus on commentarial literature.

Professional career

  • since 10/2020
    Researcher, project leader of the project “Tang Dynasty Daoist Philosophy: Cheng Xuanying’s Expository Commentary to the Daode jing and philosophical discourse among the three teachings.
  • since 04/2014
    Adjunct professor (Lehrauftrag) at China Center TU, Berlin, Department of East Asian Studies, HU Berlin, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Heidelberg, East Asia Institute University of Leipzig, Institute of Sinology, Freie Universität Berlin.
  • 10/2017 - 03/2018
    Visiting professor (Vertretungsprofessur), East Asia Institute, University of Leipzig
  • 04/2016 - 03/2017
    Visiting professor (Vertretungsprofessur), East Asia Institute, University of Leipzig
  • 10/2014 - 09/2015
    Visiting professor (Vertretungsprofessur, acting chair), Department of Sinology, IAAW, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
  • 02/2008 - 07/2009
    Adjunct professor, Chinese Philosophy and Religion, CIEE, Shanghai.
  • 07/2006 - 09/2010
    Researcher, research project “Six Dynasties Religion and Society in the mirror of epigraphic documents.” Centre for the Study of Chinese Characters, ECNU, Shanghai.
  • 02/2002 - 08/2003
    Design of a course on intercultural management for IBM Italy s.r.l., Human Capital Management.

Since my dissertation on the debates between Buddhists and Daoists at the court of the early Tang in 2002, I focused on various aspects of the interaction of Buddhism and Daoism, the early medieval development of Daoism, and on Daoist philosophy. I have published two books and several articles on Daoist philosophy and its interaction with Buddhist and Confucian thought. 

My 2009 monograph Beyond the Daode jing was the first to present an introduction to Tang Daoist Twofold Mystery teachings to a Western readership. 

I am currently in the final stages of preparing a complete translation of the Explanatory Commentary to the Daode jing by Cheng Xuanying (7th century), under contract with Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2021. 

My current research project centers on the Explanatory commentary to the Daode jing as a philosophical text in its own right and on its synchronic contextualization in different fields of philosophical discourse as a strategy to explore interaction between the three teachings in the development of Chinese philosophy.

  • Tang Dynasty Daoist Philosophy: Cheng Xuanying’s "Expository Commentary to the Daode jing" and philosophical discourse among the three teachings.
    Assandri, Friederike
    Duration: 03/2020 – ongoing
    Funded by: DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Ostasiatisches Institut Sinologie
    show details

more projects

  • Assandri, F.
    The Daode jing Commentary of Cheng Xuanying. Daoism, Buddhism and the Laozi in Tang Dynasty
    New York: Oxford University Press. 2021.
    show details
  • Assandri, F.
    13. 重玄學中的佛、道互涉:宇宙生成論、「救度論」與心靈. (Buddho-Daoist interaction in Twofold Mystery teaching: Cosmogony, Soteriology, and the mind).
    Daojiao wenhua yanjiu 道家文化研究 . 2019. pp. 423–447.
    show details
  • Assandri, F.
    Dispute zwischen Daoisten und Buddhisten im Fo Dao lunheng des Daoxuan (596–667)
    Gossenberg: Ostasien verlag. 2015.
    show details
  • Assandri, F.
    Beyond the Daode jing: Twofold Mystery Philosophy in Tang Daoism.
    Maddalena : Three Pines Press. 2009.
    show details
  • Assandri, F.; Martins, D. (Eds.)
    From Early Tang Court Debates to China’s Peaceful Rise
    Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press. 2009.
    show details

more publications

My teaching is generally rather broadly based, I am interested in both ancient China and contemporary China, and in many courses I try to emphasize the connection between history and today, and also to discuss modern phenomena in their historical dimension. 

  • Chinese Philosophy in an Intercultural Perspective (2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2022)

    Designed as an introduction to Chinese intellectual history, the course takes a new approach to the topic by focusing on the question of China's encounters with India and Europe and the question "What happens when cultures meet? 

  • History of Chinese Religion (Seminar, undergraduate)

  • Critical Studies in Chinese Religions (Seminar) (2015)

  • Contacts of China and the West from the 12th to the 21st centuries (Seminar, undergraduate) (2014)

  • Reading Classical Chinese Philosophical Texts: The Concept of Heaven in Xunzi (2015))

  • Hermeneutic Reading Strategies for Chinese Philosophical Texts (2018)

  • Orientalism and China (2017)

  • The Image of the Other: The Image of China in the West, and the Image of Europe/US in China (2016)

  • Current Debates in Area Studies (Seminar, undergraduate)(2014)

  • Cities in Chinese History (2014, 2019, 2022)

  • Ai Qing and the Literary Field of 20th Century China (graduate Seminar) (2014, 2018, 2022)

    Modern Chinese Poetry of the 20th century: Life and Work of Ai Qing (1910-1996)

    The poet Ai Qing is well known – and contested – in China and the West.

    His long and productive life spanned most of the turbulent 20th century; it shall serve as a focus for a study of the development of modern Chinese poetry in its social and historical context, with a special focus on the theory of Bourdieu.

  • Sinophone Literature (graduate Seminar)(2016)

  • Social Change in China from a Demographic Perspective (graduate Seminar)(2016, 2022)

  • China as a Global Player and the Chinese Diaspora (graduate Seminar)(2016)

  • Premodern Chinese for Advanced Students (2016)

  • Writing Technologies in China (2017, 2019)

  • From Marco Polo to Kuka: Chinese- European Knowledge Transfer between fascination and irritation . (with Dr. Tania Becker, TU Berlin WS 2018/2019

  • China in the World: The Chinese Diaspora in an Historical Perspective (BA seminar) (2021/22)

  • History of China since 1949 (Introductory course BA) (2021/22)

  • Methodical Perspectives for the Study of Religions in China (MA) (2022/23)

  • Reform, Revolotion, and Social Change in Chinas History 1898-1949

  • Premodern Chinese II (2022/23)

  • Buddhism, Daoism, and the Daode jing: the Reception of Buddhism in China (2022/23)

Research fields



  • Chinese philosophy and religion

  • Daoism

  • Buddhism

  • Tang Dynasty

  • Six Dynastie's period 220-589

Contact for media inquiries