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Hello everybody,

In my academic life, I am a professor of Buddhist Philosophy in Dialogue with other World Views at VU University in Amsterdam. In my Buddhist life, I am a Zen teacher in the Chinese Chan tradition (Maha Karuna Chan in the Netherlands). I received dharma transmission from my teacher Ton Lathouwers in 2013.

In my new book, Reimagining Zen in a Secular Age, I offer an account of the exciting but also problematic encounter between enchanted Japanese Zen Buddhism and secular Western modernity over the past century, using Charles Taylor’s magnum opus A Secular Age as an interpretative lens.

As the tenuous compromises of various forms of “Zen modernism” are breaking down today, new imaginings of Zen are urgently needed that go beyond both a Romantic mystical Zen and a secular “mindfulness” Zen. As a Zen scholar-practitioner, I show that the Zen philosophy of the 13th century Zen master Dōgen offers much resources for new hermeneutical, embodied, non-instrumental and communal approaches to contemporary Zen theory and practice in the West.

All the best,
André van der Braak

Just as religion influences societal perceptions of gender and sexuality, so sexuality is a central theme in religious systems of interpretation. Since the 1970s, this mutual relationship among religion, gender, and sexuality has become increasingly prevalent in the German-language media landscape. Countless videos, audio files, texts, and images contain reports, interviews, features, and commentaries on this complex topic. Concepts of women and men in different religious traditions, heterosexuality postulated as a social norm, and questions about celibacy and abstinence are particularly frequent themes. Many questions are posed: What is the role of women in different religions? Are women and men equal? What effect does state recognition of same-sex partnerships have? Is there a connection between celibacy and sexual abuse? And how much sexual pleasure is permitted within the framework of which sexual morality?

A podcast series at Freie Universität Berlin takes up these and other questions about the interrelations of religion and sexuality in a series of lectures and panel discussions. In particular, the series deals with the so-called five major world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. However, the focus is also on alternative forms of religiosity, as well as contexts outside or on the fringes of organized religion – especially those in which sexuality, physicality, and the acceptance of sexual variance (LGBTQI*) constitute important points of attraction. In order to discuss these issues from diverse perspectives, representatives of various scientific disciplines and religious institutions have their say. In addition to gender and sexuality, the theoretical background is comprised of structural categories such as ethnicity, class, nationality, age, and even the body, which allow for the inclusion of issues such as diversity and intersectionality. In this way, space is also and particularly made for perspectives that focus on multiple affiliations and the interplay of different forms of discrimination in the context of religion and sexuality.

Episode 6 of this podcast is on Buddhism, gender and sexuality. To listen to it, click here.

For more information (in German) on all podcast episodes, please visit: https://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/e/relwiss/Aktivitaeten/Religion-Geschlecht-und-Sexualitaet.html.

© John Whalen-Bridge

Hello everyone,

Greetings from the English Language and Literature Department of National U of Singapore! I’m currently working on engaged Buddhism and American writing, and I’m researching the authorized biography of Maxine Hong Kingston, a Buddhist American writer. In recent years I’ve also written “Tibet on Fire: Buddhism, Protest, and the Rhetoric of Self-Immolation.” With Andrea Pinkney I co-edited “ Religious Journeys in India: Pilgrims, Tourists, and Travelers,” for which I wrote an essay on Buddhist pilgrimage in the Dharamshala area.

Take care,
John Whalen-Bridge

We are pleased to inform you that the first book to focus on Buddhist Tourism in Asia is now available and on sale through the University of Hawai’i Press. This innovative work, edited by Courtney Bruntz and Brooke Schedneck, explores how Buddhists, government organizations, business corporations, and individuals in Asia participate in re-imaginings of Buddhism through tourism. Contributors from religious studies, anthropology, and art history examine sacred places and religious monuments as they have been shaped and reshaped by socioeconomic and cultural trends in the region.

Following an introduction that offers the first theoretical understanding of tourism from a Buddhist studies’ perspective, early chapters discuss the ways Buddhists and non-Buddhists imagine concepts and places related to the religion. Case studies highlight Buddhist peace in India, Buddhist heavens and hells in Singapore, Thai temple space, and the future Buddha Maitreya in China. Buddhist tourism’s connections to the state, market, and new technologies are explored in chapters on Indian package tours for pilgrims, thematic Buddhist tourism in Cambodia, the technological innovations of Buddhist temples in China, and the promotion of pilgrimage sites in Japan. Contributors then situate the financial concerns of Chinese temples, speed dating in temples in Japan, and the diffuse and pervasive nature of Buddhism for tourism promotion in Ladakh.

For more information, click here.

Dear all,

I would also like to share with you the study and work with Buddhist studies I have been doing in the past years. My dissertation, under the supervision of Prof. Renger, is about the collective practice of Buddhism in contemporary China, based on my fieldwork of a group of temples and nunneries in Mainland China conducted in 2014-2018. Most recently, I had the pleasure of publishing an article on Buddhist leadership transition in the Journal of the Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies (JOCBS) in 2020. My research topic continues with contemporary Chinese Buddhism, with particular interests in and focuses on Buddhist nuns, common Buddhist practices in urban areas, Buddhist charities, Buddhist material culture, and Buddhist leadership of the younger generation in China today. I look forward to hearing about other similar projects!

Kind regards,
Yuanying

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing with exciting news: An upcoming topical issue of the “Journal of Dharma Studies” by guest editors Thomas Calobrisi and Devin Zuckerman will convene articles on “Buddhism & the History of Science” (Fall 2020). Wanted are contributions which will generate discussion and reflection on how research in the field of Buddhist studies can be enriched, problematized, and altered by thinking with theories and methods in the history of science.

Accordingly, articles to be considered are those that engage with methodologies in the history of science in the broadest sense, including those that deal with Buddhist knowledge systems and knowledge practices across broad geographical and historical contexts, as well as those that investigate the ways that culturally informed understandings of “science” have shaped western engagements with Buddhism historically and in modernity. The topical issue aims at breaking with the typical patterns of engagement between Buddhism and science by looking critically at the terms in play – “science” and “religion” – and turning attention to the practices of knowledge production, both historically and in the present, in order to better understand forms of Buddhist knowledge and the systems whereby it has been produced.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, June 1st, 2020.

For more information on the journal, click here.

Dear all,

I also wanted to tell you about the things I have been doing in relation to Buddhist studies in the past years. Perhaps you already know that my research is focused on Buddhism in Spain. It is part of a more general research on religions and religious minorities in Spain. I have just updated my page about the research project of Buddhism in Spain that I have been developing in the last decade. The publications generally include links to pdfs. You find the web page here: http://historel.webs.ull.es/budesp/budengl.html

Cheers,
Paco

Hello everyone,

The International Journal of Buddhist Thought & Culture (IJBTC) seeks papers and book-reviews on history, philosophy, literature, and culture that are relevant to Buddhism.

IJBTC is a peer-reviewed, academic journal published bi-annually in English language by the Academy of Buddhist Studies at Dongguk University, Korea. It is published to promote Buddhist Studies by encouraging wide-ranging research on Buddhist thought and culture.

The scholastic quality of IJBTC was accredited by Korean Research Foundation in 2007. The IJBTC was included in the resource of the Atla Religion Database® in 2018. Also, we are included in the Thomson Reuters Emerging Sources Citation Index.IJBTC always welcomes submissions that bring new perspectives and fresh research to the various fields of Buddhist Studies. The deadline for submitting a contribution to Vol. 30 No.1 is March 10th, 2020. IJBTC Vol.30 No.1 will be published June 30th, 2020.

For more information, see: http://ijbtc.dongguk.edu/
For more information, including submissions, subscription and inquiries, please contact: ijbtc@dongguk.edu

Hello,

Here’s an update for the network. Since a few years, I am based at the University of Strasbourg in France. My research focuses on the evolution of Chinese Buddhism in the twentieth-century; so far, I have especially worked on Buddhist hagiographies, monastic codes, and Dharma lineages. Although I am an historian, I always try to take into consideration the impact that religious phenomena of the Republican period (1912–1949) have in contemporary China: this approach provides me in fact with an excuse to do fieldwork in Chinese Buddhist monasteries as often as I can! Collective projects are one way of doing research I especially like, as I always feel greatly inspired and enriched by exchanges with colleagues approaching the same topic from different angles and perspectives; these projects also represent for me an inspiring way to shift to new research themes, and to add a strong interpersonal dimension to my work. That is why, since I finished my doctorate in 2011, I took part in four different projects, before launching one with my friend and colleague Ester Bianchi (Perouse University) on the reinstatement of Vinaya in China and Taiwan in the twentieth century (https://vinayarevival.com/). Ester and I had the chance to work for three years (from 2015 to 2018) with an amazing team of international scholars, and the generous funding granted by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation allowed us to organize conferences in Italy and Taiwan, including group fieldworks to relevant sites in both countries! We are now busy with the edition of the volume. I recently joined a brand new collaborative project launched by Vincent Goossaert (Chinese Religious Text Authority 宗教書籍規範索引: CRTA), which aims at building a collaborative catalogue database mapping late-Imperial and Republican Chinese religious texts. The first CRTA workshop reuniting more than twenty specialists from all over the world took place in the French Alps in December 2019, and it was just amazing to translate and analyze different Chinese religious texts working in small teams with colleagues. This year, I have embarked on two new exciting researches: I am writing a monograph on a large Chan female monastery in Jiangxi based on materials that I have gathered in almost fifteen years, and I have begun a long-term research on the new Buddhist genre of sermons or religious instructions having emerged during the first half of the twentieth century.

Very best,
daniela campo

Hello,

Here also a small update for the webpage from my side. Since 2018 I have been working at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany), and carry out research in the context of the Max Planck-Cambridge Centre for the Study of Ethics, Human Economy and Social Change (‘Max-Cam’). My project focuses on recent economic transformations in Laos, and their impact on Buddhist institutions and practices. After a long period of isolation following the communist revolution in 1975, the politics of reform, and investments from neighboring countries have lead to substantial economic growth in urban areas of Laos. In my research, I want to trace the effects of the expanding economy onto the religious field, and especially rituals. I am trying to understand how and why specific actors channel parts of their new acquired wealth into Buddhist rituals, and thereby support temples and Buddhist institutions.

In 2019 I stayed in Laos for several months, and first undertook fieldwork in the capital Vientiane. There I worked with Buddhist ritual lay-specialist called mo phon who officiate at certain life-cycle rituals, in case of illness etc. My main interest here was to analyze how the remuneration for these ritual services and the associated moral economy have changed, and how these ritual specialists now care for a diversified, but also socially stratified audience. I also worked with businesses and companies, which perform large group donations and renovate Buddhist temples. Some more vignettes of my fieldwork on Buddhism and the economy can be found here:

The second part of fieldwork was carried out in large monastery school outside of Luang Prabang in northern Laos. About 500 pupils (mostly from very poor countryside families) live and learn in this Buddhist boarding school, which is largely financed by donations by wealthy Lao. The monastery school in this sense acts as an institution that redistributes wealth.n The school has also become a migration node for young men from impoverished families from rural areas. Temporary ordination as a novice or monk enables them to get a better education. After they have taken their final examinations, they disrobe and move on to live in urban areas.

At the moment I am still busy publishing results from past projects, some of which were more historically oriented. With my colleague Gregory Kourilsky (École française d’Extrême-Orient, Vientiane) I undertook research on Buddhist law financed by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies (2017-19), Additionally to my anthropological research, I continue publishing on Buddhism under colonialism and during the Cold War in Southeast Asia.

Link 1, 2, 3