Call for Papers: ‘Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective’ Group, American Academy of Religion

Posted on behalf of Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad:

[Please note that Ram is especially looking looking for a paper on Hindu Monasticism]

Call for Papers: ‘Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective’ Group, American Academy of Religion

AAR Conference, Atlanta November  2015:
Monasticism and Its Cultural Contexts

The institutionalization, in the form of the Buddhist sangha, of the already existing patterns of renunciation in ancient India transformed the expression of asocial individuality into a community of common purpose. The sangha developed as a community of ordained monks or nuns leading highly disciplined and regimented collective lives in pursuit of a doctrinally significant awakening, supported by the lay community. This led to dynamic and often dialectic patterns of interaction with other norms, doctrines, social formations and loci of power. The entry of Buddhism into China led the sangha to have an even more radical impact on society, in a civilizational context where renunciation of familial ties was a radical idea. Clearly Buddhist monasticism’s evolving and distinct forms of organization have had a major impact on religious lives in both India and China. It was also controversial, and was often challenged within both Indian and Chinese cultural contexts.
This year’s panel seeks to look at forms of religious life in India and China through the lens of the sangha. Papers can cover various aspects of the issue: the changes in the nature of the sangha over time and cultural context(s); non-Buddhist developments, like the various Advaitic, Śaiva and Śrīvaiṣṇava orders of renouncers or orders of Daoists such as Lingbao and Quanzhen, etc., that functioned as responses or even direct challenges to Buddhist conceptions of monasticism; patterns of resistance to or alternatives to the sanghamodel of spiritual life.

An ideal proposal will be comparative in its coverage, involving India and China, but historical, conceptual or some combination of both in its methodology. To name a few possibilities, papers could address some form of monastic practice across Indian and Chinese contexts; the intellectual, political or institutional competition between Buddhist and other monastic organizations; textual critiques of renunciation and renunciatory communities; or particular challenges that faced the sangha in different contexts. Topics can be within a Buddhist context, or comparatively with other Indian and Chinese traditions, or even entirely on other traditions.

Please contact the co-chairs with any queries.

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

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