Conference: Identity and Networks in Buddhism and East Asian Religions

Conference: Identity and Networks in Buddhism and East Asian Religions

International Conference on “Identity and Networks in Buddhism and East Asian Religions”

Schedule Panelists Abstracts Gallery

Mount Wutai, Shanxi province, China; July 3-5, 2018

The Wutai International Institute of Buddhism and East Asian Cultures (WII), Research Center for Buddhist Texts and Arts (RCBTA) at Peking University, Institute for Ethics and Religions Studies (IERS) at Tsinghua University, Center for East Asian Religions at the University of Zhejiang (ZU-CEAR), and the Buddhist Studies Forum at the University of British Columbia (UBC-BSF) in Vancouver, Canada, cordially invite proposals for an international conference on “Identity and Networks in Buddhism and East Asian Religions” (佛教與東亞宗教中的身份認同與網絡構建) to be held between July 3-5, 2018, at Great Sage Monastery of the Bamboo Grove (Dasheng Zhulin si 大聖竹林寺), on Mount Wutai 五臺山, Shanxi province, China.

Given a perceived philosophical denial of any permanent, unchanging self-consciousness or self-nature in the Buddhist religion, it may seem paradoxical to talk about identity and networks in the history of Buddhism. Many Mahāyāna treatises even seem to establish that everything is illusory. Yet these doctrinal or philosophical ideas are the product of soteriological or religious, rather than scientific or historiographical, discourse. Buddhist teachings about impermanence need to be juxtaposed with studies of the seemingly stable interconnected world in which people have and continue to live.

In medieval East Asia, lay people, monastics, and their patrons constructed rich networks to produce new identities that shaped religious teachings, doctrines, rituals, produced new texts and compendia of texts, and caused people to interact with one another in new and distinct places within novel groups. The construction of identities and interweaving of identities across multiple networks produced connections that transformed not only the religions of Buddhism and Daoism, but also the social, economic, and political spheres. This conference, with a central theme of “Identity and Networks in Buddhism and East Asian Religions,” aims to foster fruitful discussion on the topics of “Identity and Networks” from multiple perspectives. Interested participants are expected to formulate their discussion in accordance with, but not be limited by, the following sub-topics:

  1. Scriptures and the transmission of Buddhism/Daoism 經典與傳播;
  2. Buddhist/Daoist precepts and practices 戒律與實踐;
  3. Pilgrimage and cross-regional exchange 朝聖與跨域;
  4. Spaces, images, and rituals 空間、圖像與儀式;
  5. Ethnicity, state, and religious identities 民族 、國家與宗教身份.

Interested scholars are invited to email proposals and CVs to by April 15, 2018. All conference-related costs, including, local transportation, meals and accommodation during the conference period, will be covered by the conference organizers, who—depending on the availability of funding—may also provide a travel subsidy to selected panelists who are in need of funding.

Our goal is to bring 15-20 international scholars to the conference, who will be joined by an equal number of eminent Chinese researchers. Following precedent established during the last three Mount Wutai conferences, this conference will generate two conference proceedings: one in English and another in Chinese. The English volume will collect all the papers in English, plus English translations of outstanding papers written in non-English languages; the Chinese volume, to be published in China, will include Chinese translations of all papers not written in Chinese, in addition to those papers contributed by our colleagues in China. Only scholars who are confident they can finish their draft papers by the middle of June and produce publishable papers by the end of 2018 are encouraged to apply.

This conference is planned as part of our annual Intensive Program of Lectures Series, Conference/Forum, and Fieldwork on Buddhism and East Asian Cultures. Interested graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are welcomed to apply for the whole Summer Program (details to be announced).  The intensive program is a component of an international and interdisciplinary program on Buddhism and East Asian religions (From the Ground Up) sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (