“Book Culture in Buddhism and Beyond” Lecture Series: The Merit Economy of Buddhist Publishing in Republican China

Speaker: Dr. Gregory A. Scott (University of Manchester)

Date and time: Monday, April 29, 2024, 14:00 (London)

Location: Runcie Room, Faculty of Divinity (Sidgwick Site, Cambridge, CB3 9DP)


Abstract: Donations of materials, labour, and/or money in exchange for religious merit have been cornerstones of Buddhism in China since its arrival. In the Republican era (1912-1949), when thousands of Buddhist publications were circulating in China, donations for merit continued to help support the production of some Buddhist books, but many others were funded by fixed and circulating capital from for-profit commercial publishers or (mostly) not-for-profit Buddhist organisations. My presentation will examine evidence from Buddhist publications of the Republican era on how they made use of donations to help fund their work, how donors were recognised and recorded, and how the discourse surrounding merit transformed over this period. My hypothesis is that the longstanding core belief in the merit of publishing Buddhist books was augmented and enhanced by a number of new approaches, made possible by the print technology and social environment of the modern era.


Speaker: Dr. Gregory Adam Scott is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Culture and History at the University of Manchester. His research examines Buddhism in China in the late Qing and Republican eras, especially print culture and publishing.


“Book Culture in Buddhism and Beyond” Lecture Series:

This new lecture series, launching in Michaelmas Term 2023, features talks on writing and publishing in the Buddhist tradition and in related religious and cultural spheres. Lectures in this series offer insights into the various ways in which writing and printing has been shaping Buddhism, as well as the multifaceted impact of Buddhism on book culture in East Asia, past, present, and future.


Registration is not required. The lectures are free and open to scholars, students, and the public.

Please note: all events take place in person at the University of Cambridge. Exact times and location will be circulated via email and posted on the webpage of Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

This lecture series is organised by Dr Noga Ganany (ng462@cam.ac.uk) in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge with the generous support of the Glorisun Global Network.


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