AAR> Buddhism Unit, AAR 2020

Janet Goodwin's picture

Crosspost from H-Buddhism

Discussion published by Bryan Lowe on Wednesday, November 25, 2020  

Dear Colleagues,

AAR will, of course, be different this year, but we are glad that we still have a robust program and that we will also be scheduling a social event to help recapture some of the networking and informal conversations that often take place at AAR. We’ve compiled the titles, times, and names of presenters below. Abstracts and additional information are available on the conference home page. 

New Work in Buddhist Studies

Monday, November 30, 1:45 PM-3:15 PM (EST UTC-5) 

Jeff Schroeder, University of Oregon, “Is Buddhism Democratic? Discourse from Postwar Japan”

Kati Fitzgerald, Ohio State University, “No Pure Lands: Theological Understandings of Impurity from the Perspective of Tibetan Lay Women”

Gilbert Chen, Towson University, “The “Lustful Nun”: Sexual Transgression Committed by Buddhist Nuns in Nineteenth-Century Chongqing”

Lang Chen, University of Michigan, “Repressed Modern Buddhism? Gong Zizhen (1792 - 1841)’s Buddhist Thoughts and Praxis”

Reiko Ohnuma, Dartmouth College, Presiding


Buddhism and Racism Across Asia, Europe and North America (co-sponsored with Buddhism in the West)

Tuesday, December 1, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM (EST UTC-5) 
Paride Stortini, University of Chicago, “The Buddha as an Aryan Samurai: Julius Evola's Spiritual Racism and its Legacy on Italian Buddhism”

Bruce Grover, University of Heidelberg, “Race, Ethnic Nationalism and Power in Modern Japanese Buddhism, 1880-1945”

Kim Lam, Deakin University, "Multiculturalism and the Racialisation of Buddhism in Australia"

Adeana McNicholl, Vanderbilt University, “Shades of Whiteness in American Buddhism”

Joseph Cheah, University of Saint Joseph, Presiding

Duncan Williams, University of Southern California, Responding


The Business of Asceticism during the Long 1st Millennium CE

Thursday, December 3, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM (EST UTC-5)

Matthew Milligan, Trinity University, “Consuming the Robes: Buddhist Monasticism as Brand”

Johan Elverskog, Southern Methodist University, “No-Self, Money, and Status”

Nicholas Witkowski, Nanyang Technological University, “Caste, Impurity, and Monastic Norms in the Business of Cemetery Asceticism: The Economics of the Impure Vocations Within the Buddhist Monastery”

Julie Hanlon, University of Chicago, “Capitalizing on Donations: Economy of Practices at Early Jain Monastic Sites in South India”

Oliver Freiberger, University of Texas, Austin, Presiding


The South Asian Roots of Modern Japanese Buddhism: Seeking Śākyamuni by Richard Jaffe (University of Chicago Press, 2019)  (co-sponsored with Japanese Religions)

Tuesday, December 8, 1:45 PM-3:15 PM (EST UTC-5)

Pamela D. Winfield, Elon University 

Charles Hallisey, Harvard University 

Anne R. Hansen, University of Wisconsin 

Justin McDaniel, University of Pennsylvania 

Alicia Turner, York University

Hwansoo Kim, Yale University, Presiding


Aesthetics and Ritual in Chinese Buddhist Religions

Tuesday, December 8, 4:00 PM-6:00 PM (EST UTC-5)

Megan Bryson, University of Tennessee, “Demonstrating Wrath: The Aesthetics of Horror in Middle-Period Buddhist Art and Ritual”

Kwi Jeong Lee, University of California, “The Allure of Form: Dedicating Buddha Images at Dunhuang”

Katherine Alexander, University of Colorado, “Aesthetic Pleasures of Karmic Revenge and Religious Romance: *The Precious Scroll of Liu Xiang* as Popular Narrative”

Kevin Buckelew, Northwestern University, “Picturing the Patriarchs: Aesthetic Cultures of Portraiture in Song-Dynasty Chan Buddhism”

Jason Protass, Brown University, Presiding

Business Meeting 

Bryan Lowe, Princeton University, Presiding 

Reiko Ohnuma, Dartmouth College, Presiding


New Perspectives on Socially Engaged Buddhism: From Extinguishing Suffering to Collective Transformation of the World (co-sponsored with Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Unit)

Wednesday, December 9, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM (EST UTC-5)

Douglas Gildow, Chinese University Hong Kong, “The Earliest Chinese Socially Engaged Buddhism”

Gitanjali Surendran, Jindal Global Law School, “B. R. Ambedkar and the Indian Prehistory of Socially Engaged Buddhism, c 1890-1970”

Jessica Zu, Princeton University, “Buddhist Story-Telling as Social Commentary: Three Modern Afterlives of the Outcaste Maiden”

Jordan Baskerville, University of Wisconsin, Madison, “Dhamma and Social Change: The Formation of Socially Engaged Buddhist Networks in Thailand”

Sara Swenson, Syracuse University, “Dirty Dāna: The Emotional Virtue of Generosity Among Buddhist Charities in Vietnam”


Please note that two panels originally accepted for this year, “Manifestos for Buddhist Studies” and “Challenging Privilege in Buddhist Institutions and in Buddhist Studies,” have been postponed to AAR 2021. There are, of course, also many panels sponsored by our colleagues in other units as well that deal with Buddhism that we hope you will also be able to attend.

In addition, we will be holding a social event following our business meeting on Tuesday, December 8. It will be an informal chance to chat in breakout rooms. We hope that we can replicate some of the more organic conversations that are often the best part of AAR. We’ll start at 6:15 PM (EST) to give a few minutes of time of transition after the business meeting and continue until 8:00 PM (EST). More details will be announced over the Buddhism Unit's mailing list and at our business meeting, but please mark your calendars.

See you soon.


Reiko Ohnuma

Bryan Lowe

Buddhism Unit Co-Chairs


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