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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 5.2 (2022): 277–294;

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Report on ‘Religions and Local Society in the Historical, Comparative, and Theoretical Perspectives: An International Conference in Honour of Professor Timothy Brook’

Xiangjun FENG 馮相郡
University of British Columbia

‘Religions and Local Society in the Historical, Comparative, and Theoretical Perspectives: An International Conference in Honour of Professor Timothy Brook’ took place between August 12 and 14, 2022, at University of British Columbia (UBC) and online concurrently. This conference was hosted by the Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at UBC, with administrative support from the From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions (FROGBEAR) Project at UBC & the International Center for Studies of Chinese Civilization and Department of Religious Studies at Fudan University. It was one of the two major events this summer in celebration of Timothy Brook’s retirement from teaching positions, after serving academia for almost four decades as a leading historian of China. It paid special tribute to one of Brook’s earlier monographs, Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China (Harvard University Press, 1993), a landmark contribution in the studies of religions and Chinese societies from sociological and regional perspectives. Forty-two presentations, organized in eleven panels, together attested to the long-lasting influence of Brook’s pioneering work as well as its high relevance in today’s world. Building upon the legacy in China and Buddhism, however, these presentations demonstrated stunning religious, regional, historical, and methodological diversities, ranging from Abrahamic religions to popular beliefs, from Europe to Southeast Asia, from the ancient world to the contemporary, and from anthropological ethnography to digital humanities. This manifested an admirable mode of scholarly production and reproduction: an exemplary study focused on a particular theme and locality inspired the rise of multidimensional explorations across various boundaries.

Day 1
The conference started with a cosy gathering at the St. John’s College, University of British Columbia, where Brook served as the principal for many years. Timothy Cheek and Diana Lary, both Brook’s UBC colleagues and lifelong friends, shared with the onsite participants some of the unforgettable memories of working with Brook in the past decades, which were also synchronously streamed for the online participants and audiences dialled in from across the world.


About the Author: Feng Xiangjun (Sean) 馮相郡 is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley, in 2021. At UBC, he works on the SSHRC-funded project, ‘Written to be Burned: An Alternative History of Book Burning in China’s Age of Print’, and also transforms his dissertation, ‘Secret Scroll: The Production of Occult Knowledge in China’s Age of Print’, into a monograph. His peer-reviewed articles are published (or forthcoming) in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, and Journal of Chinese Cinemas.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.