Filippo Marsili



Assistant Professor



Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011;

M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2007;

B.A., Università di Roma "La Sapienza", 2000.





My primary focus is early China. I am particularly interested in the ways imperial authority was represented and justified in the historiography, literature, and material culture of the Western Han Dynasty (3rd-1st century BCE). My current research concentrates on discourses about the legitimation of power and on the relationship between human agency and metaphysical forces. Through a cross-cultural analysis that involves the ancient Mediterranean world and Greco-Roman historiography, I historicize different approaches to divinity, monotheism, public and private ritual behaviors, and institutionalized religion. My final goal is the establishment, between East and West, of a shared vocabulary for the "sacred," and of an open dialogue that entails different understandings and practices concerning the perceived moral bases of societies and individual rights. I teach courses on ancient Asian civilizations as well as on comparative political, cultural, and religious history.

Scholarly Publications

Essays in Edited Volumes

  • "The Ding Tripods," in C.Y. Liu, M. Nylan, A. Barbieri Low, Recarving China's Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005): 246-57.

Journal Articles

  • "The Ghosts of Monotheism: Heaven, Fortune, and Universalism in Early Chinese and Greco-Roman Historiography," Fragments 3 (2013-2014): 43-77 (Click to read)
  • "The Myth of Huangdi, the Ding vases and the Quest for Immortality in the Shiji: Some Aspects of Sima Qian's ‘Laicism,'" Rivista degli Studi Orientali 77, 1,4 (2003): 201-38.

Fellowships and Awards

  • Haas Junior Scholars Award, Center for Chinese Studies, Berkeley, 2010-2011
  • Doris G. Quinn Foundation Grant, 2010-2011
  • Dissertation Grant, Center for Chinese Studies, Berkeley, 2010-2011
  • Liu Fellowship, Center for Chinese Studies, Berkeley, 2008-2009
  • Dean's Normative Time Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2007
  • History Department Full Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2003-2006
  • Award from the Italian Foreign Department for studying in China, Italian Foreign Department, Rome, Italy, 2000
  • "Borsa di collaborazione presso la Biblioteca del Dipartimento di Studi Orientali" (competitively awarded research assistantship at the Oriental Library), Università di Roma, "La Sapienza," Dipartimento di Studi Orientali

Matteo Ricci Speakers Series

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