Raoul Birnbaum (PhD, Columbia, 1976) is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. At UCSC, he also holds the Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair at Cowell College. Birnbaum’s early publications mainly focused on the great deity cults of Mahayana Buddhist life, with a concentration on Chinese developments. Growing directly out of those interests, he also has worked on issues of sacred geography in Buddhist China, spanning medieval times to the present, most particularly the mountain cults and pilgrimage centers that form territorial anchors of religious life in China. Since the mid-1980s, he has done much work on the living traditions of Buddhist China and their historical antecedents. This work has been considerably influenced by field experience within Buddhist communities in China. Over this period, he has been involved in studies of the great monk Hongyi (1880-1942), a complex and fascinating figure of many talents who has been widely considered one of the most significant Vinaya masters of recent centuries in China.