CFP> Extended Deadline - Panel on Madhyamaka Thought and Politics (UKABS June 21-23, 2023)

Saul Tobias's picture

Contributors / collaborators sought for a panel proposal on Madhyamaka Thought and Politics  (UK Association of Buddhist Studies Conference, Scotland, June 21-23, 2023, 

Boundary-crossing between Buddhist Studies and political thought has intensified in recent years, at the level of theoretical discussion, and on the  ground in Buddhist organizations and communities. Buddhist insights have been applied to political debates concerning the status of women in society, issues of gender and gender identity, racial equality and anti-racism, cultural exclusion and appropriation, economic justice, and nationalism, to name but a few. Insights from other fields have also encouraged a reflexive and critical approach to the politics of Buddhist Studies itself, and to the political challenges facing Buddhist practitioner communities and Buddhist societies.

In this context of heightened political awareness, the place of Madhyamaka thought is much contested. Identified with an elite tradition of Buddhist textual scholarship, the relevance of Madhyamaka thought to current political concerns remains in doubt. Key Madhyamaka concepts, such as “emptiness” and the “Two Truths,” and Madhyamaka’s philosophical skepticism, have also drawn accusations of Madhyamaka thought justifying political inaction or the “spiritual bypassing” of social and political suffering.  However, others argue that Madhyamaka philosophy may contribute to a fruitful rethinking of political concepts and approaches.

All proposals related to the topic of Madhyamaka Thought and Politics, including theoretical explorations, as well as more historically or ethnographically focused papers, are welcome. Papers that explore Buddhist philosophy and politics more broadly will also be considered.  

If you are interested in contributing please contact Saul Tobias at by December 19, 2022 with a brief proposal or to further discuss ideas for the panel.