Lecture Series

January 2019, University of British Columbia
Title: “Educational Modernization in Chinese Buddhism: A Century of Transformation”
Lecturer: Dr. Rongdao Lai (University of Southern California)

Monastic education is one of the most important projects in the modernization of Chinese Buddhism. This talk begins by exploring several paradigm shifts associated with Buddhist educational modernization that began in the 1920s, a period of fervent growth and significant changes. I argue that the reimagining of a national Buddhist community and reinterpretation of orthodoxy produced a distinctly Buddhist citizenship discourse, which became the basis for Buddhist engagement with the nation-state in terms of property rights, political participation, and wartime activism. These changes proved to be essential in inspiring and shaping the discourse and conceptualization of education within the tradition. The second part of the talk offers some observations and reflections on the current state of Buddhist education in mainland China and Taiwan.


December 2018, Princeton University
Title: “Rethinking the Structure and Typology of Liturgical Texts from Dunhuang”
Lecturer: HAO Chunwen (Capital Normal University)


November 2018, Princeton University
Title: “Eavesdropping on the Perfected: Reading the Zhengao 真誥”
Lecturer: Stephen BOKENKAMP (Arizona State University)

dd

The Zhengao 真誥 or Declarations of the Perfected is a collection of revealed material and textual fragments assembled by the eminent scholar and Daoist Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (456-536). The revelations included poems, instructions, and meditation methods received by the Daoist Yang Xi 楊羲 (330-ca. 386) from a new class of deity (Perfected beings 真人) and shared by him with his patrons and students in a single family, the Xu’s. The recipients were not passive, but responded with questions and remarks of their own, prompting further revelations. Given the piecemeal survival of the textual fragments, the distance from us in time, space, and language, and a radical shift in spiritual concerns, what strategies give us some small hope of understanding this collection?


November 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “Rethinking the Structure and Typology of Liturgical Texts from Dunhuang”
Lecturer: HAO Chunwen (Capital Normal University)

This talk gives an overview of recent thinking on the typology and structure of the liturgical texts found among the Dunhuang manuscripts. I propose dividing the thousands of liturgical texts found at Dunhuang into two main categories: liturgical protocols (zhaiyi 齋儀) and liturgies (zhaiwen 齋文). Liturgical protocols (sometimes called “written protocols,” shuyi 書儀) were used as references for drafting liturgies. Liturgies, written up on the basis of these liturgical protocols, were functional documents that were read aloud at all kinds of ritual gatherings.  數以千記的敦煌寫本齋文可以分為《齋儀》和齋文兩類,《齋儀》與《書儀》性質相同,是供起草齋文參考用的文書;齋文是依據《齋儀》起草的在各類齋會上宣讀的文書,是實用文本。

We can also divide the structure of the liturgies into five parts: the “opening” (haotou 號頭), “exaltation of virtues” (tande 歎德), “liturgical purpose” (zhaiyi 齋意), “ritual area” (daochang 道場), and “adornment” (zhuangyan 莊嚴). This structure is roughly applicable to liturgical protocols and liturgies with all manners of content, including hymns of praise, apotropaic rituals, healing rites, and mourning rites, though there are of course many variations in the specific arrangement and sequence of the parts. 齋文的文本結構可以分為“號頭”、“歎德”、“齋意”、“道場”和“莊嚴”五個部分。《齋儀》和齋文集的結構大致包括讚頌功德、攘災、患差、悼亡等諸多方面的內容,但具體編排次序有多種樣態。

This talk will also touch on the commonly used term “prayer texts” (yuanwen 願文). I will suggest that this is a specific kind of liturgical text and that the term cannot be used as a blanket reference to the broader category of “liturgical text.” “願文”是齋文的一種,不能作為“齋文”類文書的通稱。


November 2018, Yale University
Title: “The Indian Ocean Trade Through Buddhist Iconographies”
Lecturer: Osmund BOPEARACHCHI (University of California, Berkeley)


October 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “Ritual, Reliquary, and Local Legend: Glocal Context of Twin Pagodas from the Silla Dynasty”
Lecturer: Youn-mi KIM (Ehwa Womans University)

[Photo credit: Ahn Jangheon]

Twin pagodas were introduced to the Korean peninsula when the Silla dynasty brought an end to the long era of the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea in the mid- seventh century. After Silla unified the peninsula, a large number of twin pagodas were erected in Korea until the fall of the dynasty in the tenth century. Unlike the previous assumption that twin pagodas were simply a doubled from of a single pagoda, I argue that they have complex ritual functions and religio-political meanings.  As such, this talk shows that twin pagodas, while their form originated in China, experienced drastic changes in the Korean peninsula. Based on archaeological data and inscriptions, this talk explores how the esoteric Buddhist ritual performed during the Silla–Tang War (670–676) and the dragon king legend of King Munmu (r. 661-681) transformed the twin pagodas into an architectural icon of state protection during the Silla dynasty.


October 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “Making FROGBEAR Materials Meaningful in the Undergraduate Classroom”
Lecturer: Susan ANDREWS (Mount Allison University)

This workshop invites us to consider how the new textual and visual sources brought together by FROGBEAR’s research teams can be meaningfully used in the undergraduate classroom. In addition to introducing the kinds of sources the international team of scholars and students have collected thus far, the presentation will offer some concrete strategies for bringing these materials from the field to life in undergraduate contexts.


October 2018, Princeton University
Title: “Dreaming and Self-Cultivation in Late Classical and Medieval China”
Lecturer: Robert F. CAMPANY (Vanderbilt University)

dd

Given the ubiquity of dreaming in human (and even some extra-human) experience, the makers of any thoroughgoing program for soteriological advancement or moral amelioration were going to have to address it in some fashion. How, then, was dreaming understood in each program, and what was the operative model of the dreaming self? What functions were dreaming enlisted to perform, and what risks was it understood to carry? I will discuss the relationship between dreaming and modes of self-cultivation (understood broadly) as portrayed in a variety of texts and genres in China from roughly 200 BCE to 800 CE.


October 2018, University of California, Berkeley
Title: “Politics in the Translation of Buddhist Texts: Timothy Richard and the Awakening of Faith”
Lecturer: GONG Jun (Sun Yat-sen University)

This presentation focuses on the political rhetoric hidden in the English translation by Timothy Richard (1845-1919) of the Awakening of Faith (Dasheng qixin lun 大乘起信論), one of the most popular Buddhist texts in East Asia. It first treats Richard’s translation as an important event in the intellectual history by placing it back to the distinctly different veins of Buddhist studies respectively in China and in the West since the nineteenth century. It then explores Richard’s creative interpretations for the two key Buddhist concepts of Mahāyāna and Hinayana as well as his hidden writing strategies while translating and interpreting Buddhist texts. Finally, the speech also analyzes in detail the ‘Western “matching-meaning”’ (yang geyi 洋格義) as expressed in the translation of the Awakening of Faith, bringing to light Richard’s Christian reconstruction of Buddhist scriptures over the course of translation.


October 2018, University of British Columbia and University of California, Berkeley
Title: “Taixu’s Global Buddhist Movement and His Discourse on Civilization: A Study Centered around the 1920s”
Lecturer: GONG Jun (Sun Yat-sen University)

This lecture, primarily from the perspective of and with the methodology of intellectual history, discusses thoroughly the World Buddhism campaign that Master Taixu (1890-1947) launched during the 1920s and his discursive discussion about civilizations at the same time. It consists of three aspects. In the context of the debate on the Western civilization and culture in the Chinese thought circle during the 1920s, it first examines Master Taixu’s theory regarding the Eastern and Western civilizations so as to understand his situation in the intellectual history. It then discusses in details the discourse of civilization theory Taixu preached during his visit to Europe in 1920s, especially how he created new theories through analogically interpreting (geyi 格義) Buddhist ideas with concepts of Western science and philosophy. This lecture ends with critically evaluating Taixu’s ideas. It sheds new light on the complex ideological orientation behind it, especially the orientalism and nationalism hidden in his idea of civilization.


October 2018, Yale University
Title: “Buddhist Astrology and Astral Magic in Medieval China: Indian and Iranian Connections”
Lecturer: Jeffrey KOTYK (McMaster University)


October 2018, Yale University
Title: “Interfusing Doctrinal Learning and Visualization Techniques: Ŭich’ŏn and the Founding of the Ch’ŏnt’ae Tradition in Early Koryŏ”
Lecturer: Richard McBRIDE (Brigham Young University)


October 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “From Tranquility (ji 寂) to Illumination (zhao 照): The Jizhao Temple in the Context of Social Changes in Dali Prefecture”
Lecturer: XUAN Fang (Academy for Advanced study of Religion, RUC)

The Jizhao temple, which means tranquility and illumination, is located in Mount Cangshan of Dali Prefecture. It was established in the early years of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was rebuilt in 1919 by the Yunnan Governor Tang Jiyao. Its status as a Buddhist temple resumed in the early 1980s, when it changed from a monastery into a nunnery. Since then, it remains in tranquility and silence as its name implies. Meanwhile, with the vigorous growth of mobile internet and we-media, it has suddenly become an internet sensation almost overnight and was titled “the most beautiful nunnery”, and “the best temple of petty bourgeoisie taste”. Based on interviews with the abbot of Jizhao temple, Ven. Miaohui, and from speaking with lay Buddhists and some other local senior monks, this article tries to sketch out the process of its transformation, sociocultural contexts and subsequent effects as well.The speech looks back to four relating sociocultural factors in historical order: first, the common cultural memory of local people who cherish Cangshan mountain and the temples around it as the soul of local culture; second, the romantic imagination constructed by popular novels and mass media about Dali Buddhism, which in turn reshaped the recovery process of local temples; third, the utopic fantasy of reclusive hermits beyond the state control, held by immigratory artists and dissidents; and fourth, the changed religious ecologic pattern with the large influx of new Buddhist residents, driven by the apocalyptic prophecy of a famous monk. Although all above factors contribute to the sudden fame of Jizhao Temple, two key events should be emphasized: the temple’s elaborate reconstruction in 2012 and the subsequent voluntary advertisement through we-media, which exposed this small nunnery to the whole country in an explosive style. This sudden exposure through mobile internet changed the Jizhao Temple in many ways and subsequently brought out many unexpected effects.

This presentation ends with a reflective discussion on the tension between the multiplicity of objectification and subjectivity of the Jizhao Temple as well as the self-identity of the nuns who reside there.


October 2018, Princeton University
Title: “Dreaming Dharma’s Decline: An Indian Buddhist Vaticinium ex eventum”
Lecturer: Jonathan SILK (Leiden University)

Indian Buddhist literature preserves in a variety of forms a short episode of royal dreams and their interpretation by a holy figure. Several strands of this complex of closely related episodes found their way into Arabic, Persian and eventually Slavic and other literatures, moving out of Buddhist Asia and reaching even the far corners of Europe. This lecture introduces the sources, and proposes ways to think about them from a variety of perspectives: narratively, rhetorically, politically, and of course religiously. It may be of interest not only to those with a specific interest in Buddhism, but also, for instance, to those interested in the uses, political and otherwise, to which stories are put.


September 2018, Yale University
Title: “The Heavenly Masters at Longhushan: The origins of the modern Daoist bureaucracy”
Lecturer: Vincent GOOSSAERT (EPHE: Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes)

The talk will outline a history of this institution, from its roots in the early Tianshidao church, to the emergence of the Longhushan Zhangs and their progressive rise to the nexus of Daoist bureaucracy and its ramifications in every city and village of imperial China. It will focus on explaining how and why this new type of religious bureaucracy developed in its spatial and historical context: the transition from aristocratic medieval society to early modern China and its southward expansion.


September 2018, Princeton University
Title: “Materiality and Textuality of Stelae and Epitaphs in the Tang Dynasty”
Lecturer: SHI Rui (Peking University)

picture

This lecture explores the intertwined relationship between materiality and textuality of stone inscriptions by focusing on their production, circulation, and interpretation. The attention to these issues is both the foundation of my research as well as where research breakthroughs could occur. The making of Tang stone inscriptions involved textual composition and stone carving. When studying this process, we should pay attention to 1) the composition of not only the text of the inscription but also other related texts; 2) the strategy and result of stone carving and its relationship to the cultural characteristics and status of the inscribed texts, 3) the artisanal aspect of the making of the stones and its evolution, and 4) the intricate network of relations among the person in charge of carving the inscription, the owner of the inscription and their family members, the composer of the text, the writer of the text, the copyist, the carver, the viewers and those who reproduce the text by further copying. Once a stone inscription was constructed, it became a part of the physical landscape where it was situated, sometimes even serving as a landmark site.


August 2018, Peking University
Title: Vinaya Pitaka Studies Lecture Series
Lecturers: SASAKI Shizuka (Hanazono University), YAMAGIWA Nobuyuki (Bukkyo University)

  • “Past, present and future of Vinaya Pitaka Studies”
    SASAKI Shizuka (Hanazono University)
  • “Overview of the studies on Vinaya Pitaka manuscripts”
    YAMAGIWA Nobuyuki (Bukkyo University)

Invited Professor Sasaki Shizuka from Hanazono University for lecture on “Past, present and future of Vinaya Pitaka Studies”, and Professor Yamagiwa Nobuyuki from Bukkyo University for lecture on “Overview of the studies on Vinaya Pitaka manuscripts”.

邀请日本花园大学的佐佐木教授做专题讲座《律藏研究的历史与现状》、《律藏研究的现代意义》,日本佛教大学的山极伸之教授做专题讲座《律藏的写本研究》,北京地区相关研究学者基本均参会聆听。


September 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “Reimagining East Asian Buddhism: Wuyue Foundations of Song Dynasty Buddhism and Beyond (The Hangzhou Region as Buddhist Hub and Homeland)”
Lecturer: Albert WELTER (University of Arizona)

Buddhist Studies has been conducted in such a way, from its inception, so as to privilege developments in India and South Asia, and to look at regional developments elsewhere as outgrowths and diversions of Indian based models. The story told in virtually all major textbooks is one that provides coverage of Indian developments, treating other regions, like East Asia, as an afterthought. This was not accidental, but was the outgrowth of specific cultural frameworks that inspired the Western academic study of Buddhism.By the tenth century Buddhism in India had dissolved and ceased to be a source of inspiration. At the same time Chinese Buddhism initiated new forms of Buddhism, highly Sinicized, where Indian Buddhist content retained a passive influence but no longer as active inspiration. My presentation focuses on one region of China, Wuyue, centered in Hangzhou, that forged an identity as a new Buddhist homeland based on new and unprecedented forms of Buddhist thought, practice and institutional structures. These developed to become foundational in the Song dynasty and served as models in the dispersion of new, authentic forms of Buddhism throughout East Asia that remain integral to East Asian Buddhism down to the present day.


September 2018, Yale University
Title: “Incarnations and the Six-Syllable Formula of Avalokiteśvara in the Kāraṇḍavyūha-sūtra”
Lecturer: Ruriko SAKUMA (Osaka University of Tourism)


August 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “The Book of Change, Confucianism and A Community of Shared Future”
Lecturer: WEN Haiming (Renmin University of China)

The self-awareness of and self-confidence in I-Ching culture are the source and essence of Chinese cultural confidence, and the Chinese and tianxia civilization with I-Ching Studies as its core has also arrived at a historical turning period, the key to which is whether or not the internationalization of I-Ching Studies is successful. The roots of both Confucianism and Daoism lie in the I-Ching. Therefore, the internationalization of I-Ching Studies is an important benchmark for accomplishing civilizational integration and coexistence. The system of classics of Chinese civilization with I-Ching Studies as its core has historically absorbed spiritual resources from Buddhism, and opened a new historical developmental stage of Chinese civilization. In the near future, it will also absorb other cultures, including the spiritual resources of other civilizations. It will help to establish a completely new system of classics and make it a spiritual resource for the self-confidence in the future of the Chinese nation and a solid foundation for dialogue between civilizations.


August 2018, University of British Columbia
Title: “On the strategy and method of Kuiji’s 窺基 (632-682) exegetics”
Lecturer: Wei-jen TENG (Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts)

June 2018, Peking University
Title: “What is Daoism—Analysis of the Origin of ‘Ordinary Mind is the Way’”
Lecturer: FUJII Jun (Komazawa University)

For event information (in Chinese), click here.


April 2018, Peking University
Title: “Rituals of Precious Scrolls of Mount Xiang in modern Changshu: the folk Buddhist beliefs in China”
Lecturer: Rostislav BEREZKIN (Fudan University)

For event information (in Chinese), click here.

For event coverage (in Chinese), click here.


April 2018, Yale University
Title:“From Hero to Heretic: The Pioneering Life and Posthumous Conviction of the 20th Century Burmese Monk Shin Ukkaṭṭha”
Lecturer: Kate CROSBY (King’s College, London)


April 2018, Yale University
Title: “Tusk, Musk, and Yellow Jade Orchid: The Legal Regulation of Buddhism on the Silk Road”
Lecturer: Cuilan LIU (Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto)


February 2018, Yale University
Title: “The Bodhisattva’s Last Mission before Awakening”
Lecturer: Vincent ELTSCHINGER (Paris Sciences & Lettres University)


November 2017, Yale University
Title: “Traditional Community Associations (she 社) and Buddhism in Medieval China”
Lecturer: HAO Chunwen (Capital Normal University)

This paper is a preliminary study of the relationship between traditional community associations in villages, towns, and cities that originally involved semi-annual sacrifices and the Buddhist religion during the Wei, Jin, Northern-Southern, Sui and Tang dynasties (fourth-tenth centuries). It reveals that during Jin, Southern-North-ern and Sui, the main conflict between the early associations and Buddhist monks concerned the killing of ani-mals. It further shows that later, in the seventh-tenth centuries, the two traditions came to a less confrontational arrangement, involving mutual understanding and assimilation. In the earlier stage, Buddhist monks fought against Chinese traditional culture, trying to persuade village associations to accept foreign ideas and give up traditional practices. This changed during the second stage, when monasteries and monks adopted a more co-operative attitude. The lecture addresses the problem of taking life in Buddhism and Chinese culture, Confucian values, debates over the making of statues, mortuary practice, monasticism, and the conflict of cultures. Evidence is drawn from stone stelae inscriptions, biographies and histories, as well as manuscripts.


November 2017, Yale University
Title: “Interactions between Indian and Chinese Culture in Buddhist Monasteries in 9th-10th Century Dunhuang”
Lecturer: HAO Chunwen (Capital Normal University)

November 2017, Yale University
Title: “The Philosophy and Practice of Buddhist Confession in the Song Dynasty”
Lecturer: SHENG Kai (Tsinghua University)

During the Tang and Song dynasty, Chinese Buddhism underwent a great change, from theory investigation to religion practice. Buddhism in the Song dynasty showed a great orientation toward practice. Confession practices prevailed widely among Tiantai members, and confession ritual procedures were also produced during this time. Jingyuan(1011-1088), a revivalist scholar of Huayan School, had to make efforts to implement the ideas of his own school in order to keep up with the trend. Huayan School lacked a practical aspect. Jingyuan edited Xiuzheng yi, reducing eighteen fascicles into one. However, this work actually reduced the characteristics of Huayan Confession itself, which emphasizes contemplation and thought. The Confession not only constituted a ritual that eliminates individual transgressions and karma, it also included rituals that aim at higher goals. At that time, with particular concerns in the background of “Protecting the Nation via Buddhism” (Guojia Fojiao), it transformed into a ritual that eliminates common karma, in order to protect the nation. In the Song periods, Buddhist communes or societies continued to develop. They brought together various beliefs, and became a type of community united by Confession practices. Under the influence of Confession practices, Chinese Buddhism became popularized and socialized in this period.


October 2017, University of British Columbia
Title: “The Philosophy and Practice of Buddhist Confession in the Song Dynasty”
Lecturer: SHENG Kai (Tsinghua University)

During the Tang and Song dynasty, Chinese Buddhism underwent a great change, from theory investigation to religion practice. Buddhism in the Song dynasty showed a great orientation toward practice. Confession practices prevailed widely among Tiantai members, and confession ritual procedures were also produced during this time. Jingyuan 净源 (1011-1088), a revivalist scholar of Huayan School, had to make efforts to implement the ideas of his own school in order to keep up with the trend. Huayan School lacked a practical aspect. Jingyuan edited Xiuzheng yi (圓覺經修證儀), reducing eighteen fascicles into one. However, this work actually reduced the characteristics of Huayan Confession itself, which emphasizes contemplation and thought. The Confession not only constituted a ritual that eliminates individual transgressions and karma, it also included rituals that aim at higher goals. At that time, with particular concerns in the background of “Protecting the Nation via Buddhism” (Guojia Fojiao 國家佛教), it transformed into a ritual that eliminates common karma, in order to protect the nation. In the Song periods, Buddhist communes or societies (sheyi 社邑) continued to develop. They brought together various beliefs, and became a type of community united by Confession practices. Under the influence of Confession practices, Chinese Buddhism became popularized and socialized in this period.


October 2017, University of British Columbia
Title: “The Thirteenth Fourteenth Century Encounter of Chinese Tiantai and Japanese Tendai”
Lectuer: Paul GRONER (Religious Studies, University of Virginia)

The Japanese monk Shunjō 俊芿 (1155-1227) traveled to China and studied Tiantai, Pure Land and the precepts for thirteen years. When he returned to Japan, he brought back one of the largest collections of Chinese texts from the Song Dynasty and practices that radically differed from those used by Japanese Tendai monks. Although he enjoyed great success in many ways, he had limited success in influencing Tendai monastic discipline. In this lecture, I look at how an eminent Japanese scholar Ninkū 仁空 (1309-1388) responded to some of Shunjō’s challenges.


September 2017, University of British Columbia
Title: “Diving into Buddhahood: The Four Inversions at Shanyingshan and Baoshan”
Lecturer: Wendi ADAMEK (University of Calgary)

In this talk, Professor Wendi Adamek focuses on two rock-cut tributes to the Nirvāṇa-sūtra’s characterization of nirvāṇa as permanence, joy, self, and purity (chang le wo jing 常樂我凈). In the first part she introduced these terms, known as the “four inversions.” Chinese interest in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra’s chang le wo jing rubric can be seen in various Northern Dynasties, Sui and Tang works, both textual and visual, that support tathāgatagarbha (buddha-matrix) soteriology. At the first site she examines, the middle or central cave of Shanyingshan 善應山 (Henan), was an illustration of the chang le wo jing rubric in the Brāhmana Jātaka from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, as well as a passage on contemplation of the body from the same sūtra. Second, on a rock-face near Dazhusheng 大住勝 cave at Baoshan 寶山 (Henan), was an undated inscription consisting of variations on the Brāhmana Jātaka verses. She discusses, in turn, the Nirvāṇa-sūtra and these two sites of inscription and image in order to highlight their illustrations of “inversion” as the key relation between no-self and the actualization of “self” promised in the sūtra, an alluring potential that was found courted by various names in the body of literature loosely designated as “tathāgatagarbha” texts.


April 2017, Yale University
Title: “In the Wake of the Mongols: The Making of a New Social Order in North China, 1200-1600”
Lecturer: Jinping WANG (National University of Singapore)

In the two decades between 1211 and 1234, the Mongols swept through North China under the Jurchen-Jin dynasty (1125-1234), waging the most destructive war in the history of imperial China. Wiping out more than half of the population and ruining much of the farmland, the Mongols destroyed the underpinnings of the entire society in North China and caused the old order to collapse. From the early years of their conquest, instead of relying on Confucian-educated literati to rebuild local society like the Jurchens had done, the Mongols shifted financial and political support to Quanzhen Daoist and Buddhist religious orders, making their clergy one of the most powerful social groups. Men from different social levels, and a surprising number of women as well, assembled in the Buddhist and Daoist orders and played significant roles in rebuilding postwar society, reviving the economy, and reshaping social values. Clergy and their religious institutions acquired sufficient power to occupy considerable social space between family and state, which led to the emergence of a new social order in North China beginning in the Mongol-Yuan period and extending well to the following Ming dynasty (1368-1644). This distinctive social order is utterly different from the scholarly image of a literati-centered local society in imperial China after the eleventh century.


April 2017, Princeton University
Title: Silk Road Forum
Speakers: Susan WHITFIELD (IDP, The British Library), Doucheng DU (Lanzhou University)

A public event with lectures in English and Chinese by two keynote speakers (Susan Whitfield, International Dunhuang Project; Du Doucheng, Lanzhou University) and responses by two visiting scholars (Yu Xin, Fudan University; and Annette Juliano, Rutgers University). Attendance: 105. To learn more, click here.

  • “The Silk Roads: Leading Us Astray?”
    Susan WHITFIELD (IDP, The British Library)
    Response by Xin YU (Fudan University)
    Is the Silk Road a meaningful or misleading concept for our understanding of pre-modern Afro-Eurasia? How has its emergence as a worldwide brand and, most recently, as a politico-economic strategy, threatened or assisted scholarship? Should we reject or embrace it? Susan Whitfield will consider these questions, looking at the origin, history and growth of the Silk Road concept and its modern manifestations.
  • “The Ancient Silk Road in Light of New Discoveries in Gansu”
    Doucheng DU (Lanzhou University)
    Response by Annette JULIANO (Rutgers University)
    The overland Silk Road may have been opened in ancient times, the maritime route may have developed long before the Song dynasty, and political and military interests may have been stronger than economic ones. This talk introduces recent discoveries in Buddhist archaeology in Gansu province against this historical background.

March 2017, Yale University
Title: “Modernity & Agency: How Activisits reconstructed Nepali Society”
Lecturer: David GELLNER (University of Oxford)

Latour’s ideas and terminology have been widely influential within social and cultural anthropology, even amongst those who are not inclined to follow Actor-Network-Theory. Latourian vocabulary for describing the modernity we have never had is acceptable and often suggestive, but Latour’s attack on individual and collective human agency is particularly ill suited to explaining the rise of new kinds of identity. I describe the rise of new ‘ethnic’ and ‘macro category’ identities in Nepal and suggest that the analysis applies to many other social identities as well. I argue that activists are masters and mediators of Latourian ‘hybridity’.


March 2017, Yale University
Title: “Can There Be an Anthropology of Hinduism?”
Lecturer: David GELLNER (University of Oxford)

February 2017, Yale University
Title: “Koryo Buddhist Painting in East Asia?”
Lecturer: Woothak CHUNG (Dongguk University)