Associate Professor of Religion, Religions of China

April D. Hughes received her Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University in 2014. She completed M.A. degrees in East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research situates medieval Chinese religion within broader cultural and social contexts. She is especially interested in medieval Chinese Buddhist manuscripts and mural paintings discovered at Dunhuang (northwest China).

Her current book, Worldly Saviors and Imperial Authority in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (May 2021, University of Hawai‘i Press), traces worldly saviors, particularly Maitreya Buddha and Prince Moonlight, as they appeared in apocalyptic scriptures discovered at Dunhuang, claims made by rebel leaders, and textual interpretations and assertions supported by Yang Jian (Wen of Sui, r. 581-604) and Wu Zhao (Wu Zetian, r. 690-705). The book highlights the centrality of apocalypticism to Chinese imperial sovereignty, which continued to echo long after the close of the medieval period.

Current CV


Worldly Saviors and Imperial Authority in Medieval Chinese Buddhism 
By: April D. Hughes
May 31, 2021
University of Hawai‘i Press 

Finalist, 2022 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Historical Studies category, American Academy of Religion
Available at [University of Hawai‘i ] [Amazon



  • CAS RN 103 Religions of Asia 
  • CAS RN 211 Chinese Religion 
  • CAS RN 246 Sex, Death, and the Buddha 
  • CAS RN 365 Art, Media, and Buddhism 
  • CAS RN 450/750 Topics in Religion, Science, and Medicine
  • CAS RN 453/753 Topics in Religion and Sexuality
  • CAS RN 793 Professional Development Seminar for Doctoral Students in Religion 
  • CAS CC 102 The Way: Antiquity and the Medieval World