Prof Yu is the Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology, Yunnan University. He serves as a member of the Advisory Group for the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. He is also an elected board member of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC) and co-founder/co-lead of the Thematic Working Group on Trans-Himalayan Environmental Humanities at the Himalayan University Consortium. Prof Yu received his PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Davis in 2006.
Prior to his current faculty appointment, he was the Founding Director of the Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University, a senior researcher/research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, and a core member of the Transregional Research Network at the University of Göttingen, Germany. His research interests include environmental humanities, religion, and ecology; trans-Himalayan studies; sacred landscapes; climate change and mass migration; modern Tibetan studies; and comparative studies of Eurasian secularisms.
He is the author of Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (De Gruyter, 2015) and The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism, 2011). He is the co-editor of Religion and Ecological Sustainability in China (Routledge, 2014), Trans-Himalayan Borderlands: Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities (Amsterdam University Press Asian Borderlands Series, 2017), Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas: Symbiotic Indigeneity, Commoning, Sustainability (Routledge Environmental Humanities Series, 2021), Yunnan-Burma-Bengal Corridor Geographies: Protean Edging of Habitats and Empires (Routledge Critical Perspectives on India and China Series, 2021). His research projects have been funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Program, the Swedish Research Council (India-China Corridor project), the Himalayan University Consortium Focus Grant, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant, the National Social Sciences Foundation of China, and the German Ministry for Education and Research Fund, to name a few. His current book project is Storied Worlds of the Anthropogenic Himalayas: Geo-consciousness, Multispecies Commons, Vulnerabilities.