A renowned scholar of Buddhism, Collins specializes in the social and cultural history of Buddhism in pre-modern and modern South and Southeast Asia, and he is among the world’s foremost experts on Pali language and literature. Pali is best known as the language of the earliest extant Buddhist canon and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.
Collins’ most recent book is A Pali Grammar for Students, published in 2006. His other books include Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravada Buddhism, and Nirvana and other Buddhist Felicities: Utopias of the Pali imaginaire. His current research interests include the translation of Pali texts, civilization and gender, and possession.
Trained at Oxford University, Collins was a graduate scholar at Oxford’s Wolfson College and a Junior Research Fellow in Oriental Languages at Oxford’s Exeter College. He taught at Bristol University, Indiana University and Concordia University in Montreal before joining the Chicago faculty in 1991.
He is a council member and a former director of the Pali Text Society, which promotes the study of Pali. Collins has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies since 2001, and he has served on the steering committee of the American Academy of Religion’s Buddhism section.