Mitacs Undergraduate Internships for Summer 2018

Mitacs Undergraduate Internships for Summer 2018

We are excited to announce that we have seven projects available for undergraduate students outside of Canada (please see list of eligible countries at the link below).

For more information, and to apply, please visit: https://www.mitacs.ca/en/programs/globalink/globalink-research-internship

Please complete your application by September 18, 2017 at 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

Details of our projects:

  1. From Oral to Digital: Religion and the Transformation of the Media for the Transmission of Knowledge

Supervisor: Jinhua Chen

University of British Columbia—Vancouver

Today, as education moves toward online platforms and newspapers are replaced by blogs, we are experiencing a change not unlike the one faced by our counterparts in medieval East Asia when print took hold amid a strong and enduring culture of manuscripts. Lacking a central authority, today we produce, edit, and distribute online texts that in their fluidity recall the hand-copied productions of our predecessors. At the same time, the printed book, particularly the printed codex, presaged some fundamental revolutions brought about by the internet-based “hypermedia”: an expandable network of sharing and distributing information stored in and transmitted through a specific medium.

This project examines ways in which the transition from manuscript to print and the development of a range of technologies and reading techniques in premodern Asia may inform our understanding of the current global transition from print to digital media.

  1. “Compassionate Killing”: Violence and Buddhism in China and Beyond

Supervisor: Jinhua Chen

University of British Columbia—Vancouver

Over the last few decades scholars have become increasingly aware of the long-term and widespread intersections between violence and Chinese Buddhist institutions and ideologies. To date, however, scholarly attention has been, by and large, focused on fairly narrow topics in the long history of violence in the saṃgha. This project will attempt a systematic study on the different roles played by medieval Chinese Buddhist monks in warfare and other activities with the potential for violence——e.g., service as military chaplains and counsellors, warriors, practitioners and promoters of the martial arts, and spies. By bringing to light an important (and severely understudied) arena in which the saṃgha interacted with the secular world, this project aims at elevating the current scholarly understanding of the issue of Chinese Buddhism and violence to new levels. It will hopefully stimulate further study of religious violence in other parts of East Asia as well as more nuanced and innovative studies of religious violence in general.

  1. Religion and Technology

Supervisor: James Benn

McMaster University—Hamilton

This project investigates how changes in communication technology have impacted East Asian religion and its study. It is not only concerned with historical transitions from written to printed, or from printed to digital information, but also asks how current developments in information technology influence the practice and the study of East Asian religion.

The fieldwork and training aspect of this project aims to show how recent advances in information technology can be gainfully applied to the study of Asian religions. Participants will explore techniques such as GIS, social network analysis, text mining, and others, in order to gain new perspectives and acquire new skills.

part of SSHRC-sponsored project From the Ground Up Buddhism and East Asian Religions. See http://frogbear.org/

  1. Texts in Statues

Supervisor: James Benn

McMaster University—Hamilton

The main goals of the “Texts in Statues” project are to identify, catalogue, and study all statues from China, Korea, and Japan with manuscripts and texts that have been interred inside of them.  Included in the scope of this project will be statues in situ in Asia as well as those in museums in Asia or abroad.  As part of the foundational preparatory work for this project researchers in each area will be charged with compiling an annotated bibliography of: 1.)  Primary sources (canonical and extra-canonical) that describe the interment of material inside of statues; 2.) Academic studies of known statues containing manuscripts and texts; and 3.) Mentions of the interment of texts in other historical or literary sources.

part of SSHRC-sponsored project From the Ground Up Buddhism and East Asian Religions. See http://frogbear.org/

  1. East Asian Buddhist Scriptures: “Secondary” Producers, “Primary” Roles

Supervisor: George Keyworth

University of Saskatchewan—Saskatoon

There are three separate fieldwork projects for this project that examine three sites to address three “secondary” producers: (1) twelfth century copies of eighth century manuscripts collected by distinct communities into Old Japanese Manuscript canons; (2) Late Koryŏ and Chosŏn era (14th-18th century) Korean manuscripts; and (3) fifteenth century Gozan editions of manuscripts and seventeenth century Chinese Chan canons (Jingshan).

Researchers in this workshop will strive to accomplish three goals: (1) to produce an English / CJK catalog of canonical and extra-canonical materials to be compared with the Taishō, Korean, and primary and extant Chinese canons (e.g., Jingshan); (2) to compile an annotated bibliography and study of where canon-formation took place on the “periphery” by “secondary” producers; and (3) to produce an annotated bibliography and study of how sectarian, institutional groups shaped the process of canon-formation in East Asia. Goal (3) will lead to a working catalog current researchers and students can use to learn where to access important archives, collections, and sites where alternative—perhaps “original”—editions of texts, with colophons, can be accessed.

Separate field workshops for this project will run during the summers of 2017; 2018; and 2019 in Japan, Korea, and China, respectively. The proposed projects are as follows: (1) 2017 in Japan: manuscript collections and archives (and site visit research) where Tendai manuscripts can be accessed; (2) 2018 in Korea: archival research (Dongguk and Seoul university libraries) and site fieldwork to re-examine how the Korean canon was informed by specific contexts and how manuscript production continued in Korea into the Chosŏn period tied to the boundaries of canonicity well into the nineteenth century. (3) 2019 in China: now readily available [Japanese] Gozan editions of Chan texts—compared with the Ōbaku canon—demonstrate how communities in southern China shaped and fundamentally redefined the Chinese Buddhist canon, from the ground up.

  1. East Asian Religions: Authenticity and Authority

Supervisor: George Keyworth

University of Saskatchewan—Saskatoon

This project will investigate two religious sites in the city of Jiyuan. The first is Jidu temple, the only remaining temple of traditional state sacrifice to rivers (sidu: Yellow river, Yangzi river, Huai river, and Ji river). The second is Mount Wangwu, one of the Daoist sacred mountains. We seek to respond the question of how have concerns with identifying “major religious traditions” and “genuine” authors affected perceptions of authority and canonicity and to provide a unique opportunity to address when, where, and who has defined authoritative and authentic religions in China.

Using local experts to introduce the religious-historical context and current condition of the two sites, as well as the method and purpose of the visit, a comprehensive investigation of Jidu temple, including architectural style of the site, the legacy of state sacrifices to the river god, and stele inscriptions on site are recorded. At Mount Wangwu, investigating architectural style of Daoist abbeys, pre-modern material cultural evidence, stele inscriptions, and contemporary practices of Daoist priests at abbeys takes place.

While traditional Chinese state religion has been largely disregarded by contemporary traditions-based definitions of religion in China (e.g., Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism), many Daoist sites are overlooked due to over-emphasis upon either early or late Chinese Daoism. Jidu temple is the only remaining state sacrifice temple to rivers. On site, 72 buildings from the Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties with more than 8,000 m2 and 100 steles are preserved. Nowhere else can researchers access such a rare example of traditional Chinese state religion. Mount Wangwu is one of the most important—though little studied—sacred Daoist sites with tangible links to Tang dynasty state patronage and dissemination of Daoist literature projects. It is a unique site to interact with contemporary Daoist priests, monasticism, ritual services, and the living architecture of Daoism.

  1. Buddhism and Business, Market and Merit: Exploring Buddhism’s Intersections with Economics at Sacred Sites

Supervisor: Susan Andrews

Mount Allison University—Sackville

In recent years, Buddhism and Economics has emerged as an important area of academic inquiry. Produced by two groups of experts working in relative isolation from one another, scholarship in this field is, generally speaking, of two forms. Historians of religion and anthropologists have, on the one hand, investigated economic aspects of Buddhist practice and belief past and present. Economists and sociologists have, on the other hand, endeavoured to put forward alternative economic models that address major challenges facing our contemporary world.

The present project forms part of the larger, seven-year SSHRC-funded “From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions” project that seeks through multidisciplinary collaboration and onsite study to traverse scholarly boundaries of this type. Taking as our focus the intersections between religion and economics at sacred centres–particularly Canada’s Mount Wutai Buddhist Garden and Mount Wutai of China and Japan–two questions will orient our work: What does socioeconomic theory and method have to offer anthropologists, historians, and specialists in religious studies whose work documents and analyzes Buddhism’s pervasive and continuing importance in the economic sphere? And, what implications does the radical multiplicity of Buddhist encounters with economics have for Buddhist Economic theory?

The recreation of China’s sacred Mount Wutai throughout the Buddhist world provides a fascinating case study for this topic. Through onsite investigation and close reading of primary sources and secondary scholarship, we will address how commercial interests intersect with the needs of religious practitioners who they bring together via networks moving people, information, and goods at hubs of the transnational Mount Wutai cult. Our study should contribute to the growing body of scholarship that explores how economic interests shape the ways religious life looks and how religious life informs economic activity in Canada, China, Japan, and around the globe.