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Writing “The Book of Rivers and Lakes”

September 1-2, 2017. Vancouver, Canada.
“Writing The Book of Rivers and Lakes (Jianghu)” was a planning workshop for a co-authored encyclopedic book-length study entitled The Book of River and Lake. The Book will focus on an enduring and influential Chinese concept, known as jianghu. Jianghu (literally, “rivers and lakes”) is an imaginary realm away from home and hearth. Jianghu, a fluid type of cultural imaginary, is also intimately connected to the notion of a solid and stable “Middle Kingdom”; over the centuries, notions of unruly and uncivilized border regions have helped to shape ideas of empire and nation. This workshop brought together specialists in a variety of fields to design a learning, teaching, and research resource related to this influential cultural idea.

When the Himalaya Meets with Alps: International Forum on Buddhist Art & Buddhism’s Transmission to Europe

August 27, 28, 2016. Madrid, Spain.
As one of the world’s three major religions, during the long process of its transmission, Buddhism continuously disseminated Indian art across vast regions outside of South Asia. At the same time, Buddhism fused with local native cultural and artistic traditions, unceasingly creating new from the old and bringing about the development of numerous new dazzling artistic traditions. The history of the far-reaching transmission of Buddhism is an extremely important, inseparable part of the overall process of development of the arts of mankind.

Lines and Enlightenment: Chan Buddhism and Literature in Medieval China

August 9, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
The relationship between literary and religious activities has been a lasting theme for any society of any time all over the world. One lens to see through the patterns of interactions between the religious and literary practitioners is provided by the relationship between Chan Buddhism and literature in medieval China. This one-day workshop, co-sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, invites several top scholars based in China and Canada to jointly shed new light on this intriguing issue.

The Second International Conference on the Wutai Cult

July 19-24, 2016. Great Sage Monastery of Bamboo Grove, Mount Wutai, China.
Located in central China, the mountain range known as Wutai 五臺 was perceived as the new Chinese abode for the famous Indian bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī. As such, it came to be widely venerated by Buddhist believers from all over East Asia. This conference explores a plethora of trans-cultural, multi-ethnic, and cross-regional factors that contributed to the formation and transformation of the cult centered on Wutai and its dwelling bodhisattva (Mañjuśrī), as well as the “international” roles (religious, political, economic, commercial, diplomatic and even military) that the Wutai-centered cult has played in Asia and beyond.

“Compassionate Killing”: Violence in East Asian Buddhism

May 29, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
This workshop aims to throw light on East Asian Buddhism’s involvement in warfare and other violent and semi-violent activities (e.g., military chaplains and counsellors, warriors, practitioners and promoters of the martial arts, and spices). In addition to bringing to light an important (and severely understudied) front in which the samgha (i.e., Buddhist community) intervened in the secular world, this workshop will also underscore the necessity to move beyond studying the “real situation of Buddhism” through the prism of the Buddhist precepts, which prescribed, rather than described, the circumstances under which the samgha grew and was transformed. Another aim is to study new features and patterns of state-samgha relations in East Asia.

East Asian Manuscript and Print as Harbingers of the Digital Future

May 26-28, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
While considering reading, writing, and media today alongside Asian traditions of the past, this event will also look ahead toward ways of preserving and transmitting the past, including demonstrations of digitization in the fields of education, library studies, journalism, history, literature, and religion. The roundtable will bring scholars, curators, librarians, community leaders, and policymakers into conversation to examine an array of approaches and technologies.