Buddhist Asia: Traditions, Transmissions and Transformations

  An NEH Summer Institute ~ May 25 to June 26, 2015 ~ Honolulu, Hawai'i ~ Hosted by the Asian Studies Development Program

Week Five: Buddhism and Modernity. The final week of the program will address the encounters of Buddhist Asia with global modernity. On Monday morning, David Germano will focus on Tibetan Buddhist encounters with geopolitics. After briefly setting the historical stage, he will focus on how Tibetan Buddhism has been impacted by and responded to the incorporation of Tibetan homelands within the national boundaries of the People‚Äôs Republic of China. In the afternoon, Juliane Schober (Arizona State University) will open her session with an overview of state-Sangha-civil society relations in Southeast Asia. She will then focus on the complex (and at times contradictory) ways in which Buddhism has factored into the political and social dynamics of contemporary Myanmar/Burma over the last several decades as the country has undergone political upheavals, isolation, and most recently unexpected liberalization and reopening.


On Tuesday morning, Peter Hershock will chart developments in China from the mid-19th century trauma of the Taiping Rebellion through the founding of the PRC, the Cultural Revolution, market liberalization and China's reemergence as an economic and political  power on the global scene.  


On Wednesday morning, James Mark Shields (Bucknell) will discuss the brief, early Meiji era (1868-1912) persecution of Buddhism in connection with Japan's modernization and a growing politicization of Shinto as a state religion, the rise in response of Buddhist modernism in late 19th and early 20th century Japan, and the more recent struggles of Japanese Buddhists to square Buddhist ideals with historical realities and with modern values of equality and social justice.


The program will conclude with a Thursday morning group discussion addressing key concepts and issues as well as the globalization of Buddhist Asia, followed by participant project presentations on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.