Microcosm Holds Mountains and Seas: The Sinicization of Buddhism in the ‘Multi-layered Contextualization’ from Local to Global History

Microcosm Holds Mountains and Seas:
The Sinicization of Buddhism in the ‘Multi-layered Contextualization’ from Local to Global History


August 18–21, 2024

South Putuo 南普陀, Xiamen, China

In-Person Registration (form closes August 1, 23:59 BJT)


Abstracts Panelists Schedule


The renowned South Putuo Monastery in Xiamen, located in Southern Fujian, boasts a history spanning more than a thousand years. It holds a special place in the modernization of Buddhism during the twentieth century. The Buddhist College of Minnan 閩南佛學院, established by the monastery, was not only a forerunner in the reform of modern monastic systems and higher Buddhist education but also became a key witness to the significant transformations undergone by Chinese Buddhism, thanks to its affiliations with Master Taixu and other prominent Buddhist figures during the Republican era. Moreover, the South Putuo Monastery, along with its affiliated Buddhist College of Minnan, is renowned for its global appeal. Simultaneously, it symbolizes the distinctive methods of teaching and practicing the dharma adopted by Buddhist communities in Southern Fujian. These institutions hence exemplify the seamless integration of local and global elements, reflecting a duality inherent to Buddhism itself.

Considering the distinctive historical and current significance of the South Putuo Monastery and the Buddhist College of Minnan, the upcoming symposium will be sponsored jointly by the South Putuo Monastery, PekingU Research Center for Buddhist Texts and Art 北京大學佛教典籍與藝術研究中心 and PekingU Center for Buddhist Studies 北京大學佛教研究中心 , administered by the FROGBEAR Project based at UBC, and hosted by the Buddhist College of Minnan. This event is scheduled to be held at the Buddhist College of Minnan in Xiamen, Fujian, from August 18 to 21, 2024 (the symposium agenda includes arrival on August 18, conference sessions on August 19 and 20, and departure on August 21). It aims to examine a range of issues related to both the global and local histories of Buddhism.

From its inception, Buddhism has exhibited a tendency towards globalization. Originating in Central India, it expanded in various directions, traversing Central Asia and extending to East Asia. During this process, the intertwining trends of globalization and localization have been constant companions in the spread of Buddhism, giving rise to the unique phenomenon of ‘Glocalization’, a blend of global and local influences.

Furthermore, in the study of Buddhism, it is important to adopt a ‘multi-layered contextualization’ approach. This involves an integration of local, regional, national, and global histories at different levels in our study of Buddhism. On one hand, the study of Buddhist history cannot be detached from the construction of microhistories to avoid being overly general. Even macroscopic studies require a detailed examination of local and regional histories. At the same time, a broader perspective and framework are essential to understand the global significance underlying local events.

The Sinicization of Buddhism was an extremely lengthy and complex process, warranting multi-layered, interdisciplinary, and multimedia research from diverse perspectives. Integrating localization and globalization, the ‘multi-layered contextualization’ approach, which considers both local and global history, represents a novel approach worthy of exploration in the study of Buddhism’s adaptation in China. Consequently, the organizers of this symposium hope that scholars both within and outside China will explore these new perspectives on the Sinicization of Buddhism, as well as how Buddhism, once Sinicized, navigated the historical processes of modernization and globalization.

The conference topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. Southern Fujian Buddhism;
  2. History of Regional Buddhism and Regional History;
  3. Globalization of Chinese Buddhism since the Ming and Qing Dynasties;
  4. Modernization of Chinese Buddhism in the late Qing Dynasty and early Republican era;
  5. Globalization and modernization of Chinese Buddhism;
  6. Overseas Chinese Buddhism: New sources and perspectives;
  7. Overseas branches and home bases of Chinese Buddhism;
  8. Modernization and globalization prospects of Buddhism;
  9. Buddhism’s spread and civilizational exchanges in countries along the land and maritime Silk Road.

This conference will produce two volumes (one English and the other Chinese). The committee welcomes any papers related to the conference theme. We are now enrolling about ten scholars from all over the world to join the approximately 30 scholars whose participation has been confirmed.

Selected conference papers will be published as one or two journal special issues. Those confident of completing their draft by the end of July and finalizing their papers by the end of November, 2024 are welcome to apply. All associated costs, including accommodation and meals during the conference, will be covered by the conference organizers. Depending on the funds available, travel expenses may also be partially covered. Please email proposals and CVs to frogbear.project@ubc.ca by April 15, 2024.

This conference is planned as part of our annual International and Intensive Program on Buddhism.