Illuminating the Sacred Word – translation, commentary, and exegesis in the Buddhist world and beyond A Multidisciplinary Conference in Memory of Stefano Zacchetti (1968-2020)

Image: Portrait of Stefano Zacchetti by Guilio Zacchetti


Illuminating the Sacred Word’ – translation, commentary, and exegesis in the Buddhist world and beyond A Multidisciplinary Conference in Memory of Stefano Zacchetti (1968-2020) 21-22 June 2024, China Centre, Oxford

The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, in conjunction with Balliol College and with the kind sponsorship of the Glorisun Foundation, will be holding a two-day conference at the University of Oxford China Centre over 21–22 June 2024 to celebrate the life and achievements of the lateProfessor Stefano Zacchetti. The topic of the conference is translation, commentary and exegesis, whether in the domain of Buddhist Studies or otherwise, chosen in recognition of Stefano Zacchetti’s extensive work in this field and his life-long fascination with philology, literature and the wider humanities.

We hope that this conference will attract contributions on the topic of translation, philology as the ‘custodian of the sacred word’, and commentary. We invite proposals concerning any aspect of translation, commentary and textual exposition in all time periods and across the different strands of Buddhism in Asia and beyond, as well as proposals on translation and commentarial traditions from other religious, literary, or artistic traditions. We especially encourage proposals on the methodologies of commenting – including what might be termed methods or systems of exegesis – whether based on key prescriptive and/or hermeneutic texts or reflecting local or regional methods of approaching the exposition of a textual source. We would also welcome proposals looking at contemporary practice, as well as contributions that address non-textual forms of comment and exposition, including the visual and performative. Given Stefano Zacchetti’s own interests, exploration of the sometimes permeable boundary between commentary and buddhavacana/canon is also of particular interest here.

We are planning for presentations to last 20-30 minutes, with opportunities for questions and answers.

Accommodation and meals during the conference will be provided by the conference organisers.


• We invite you to send your proposed title and a short description (200-300 words) in English or Chinese to by 22 March 2024. 

• Please provide a cover page that includes:

Your full name, title, institution (if any):

Your email address:

A brief statement of your relationship to Stefano, if any, e.g. former colleague / collaborator / friend / student at Balliol / Chengdu /etc. / influenced by his work

  • Do you need to give your talk remotely? Yes/No/Not if there’s travel money
  • Do you need accommodation for the duration of the conference? Yes/No
  • Do you need financial support for travel and, if so, an indication of your route/costs? Yes (cost/route)/No
  • Do you prefer to present in: English or Chinese?
  • Would you like your paper to be considered for publication in the proceedings? Yes/No