Dear friends and colleagues,
The Holmes Welch and the Study of Buddhism in Twentieth Century China Seminar was an event held at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion between 2013 and 2018. Holmes H. Welch (1924-1981) was a scholar of Chinese religions and wrote a trilogy of monographs on Buddhism in modern China that helped to establish the field. Our seminar was intended to honour his academic legacy but also to advance the field beyond the territory covered in his research, and to support the work of early career scholars in the field.
As co-founders and co-chairs, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who helped with the initial proposal and with the six meetings that were held over the years. We were still very early career scholars when the seminar began, and we were very fortunate to receive enthusiastic support from a number of established scholars in the field of Buddhist Studies that helped us along the way. I think it's fair to say that those of us who study modern Chinese Buddhism and who have been inspired by Welch's foundational scholarship, as well as those in the broader field who are interested in the period and in Welch's legacy, have all benefited a great deal from this annual seminar. We were also honoured by some of Holmes Welch's family who attended a few sessions, and whose personal accounts of Welch's life and work were invaluable contributions to these events. The seminar resulted in a special issue of the periodical Studies in Chinese Religions (Volume 3, 2017) that was devoted to the study of Welch and the Buddhist revival in modern China. We are also pleased to see that many of the participants in the seminar over the years are now in permanent academic positions around the world, and that they continue to build upon the research that they contributed.
We would especially like to thank the following people:
Everyone who contributed a letter of support for our initial application to the AAR;
Members of the steering committee: Eyal Aviv, Brooks Jessup, Justin Ritzinger, Rongdao Lai, and Stefania Travagnin;
Everyone who presented in, responded to, chaired, or attended one of our meetings; and
Members of the Welch family.
While the seminar has ended, the work continues, and we look forward to seeing more critical and insightful research on modern Chinese Buddhism as we try to uphold the legacy of Holmes Welch and his unique contribution to Buddhist Studies.
Erik Hammerstrom, Pacific Lutheran University
Gregory Adam Scott, University of Manchester