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Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books
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New Books in Buddhist Studie‪s‬ Marshall Poe

    • Buddhism
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Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books
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    A Thai Contemporary Artist on Identity, Power, and the Space In-Between: A Discussion with Phaptawan Suwannakudt

    A Thai Contemporary Artist on Identity, Power, and the Space In-Between: A Discussion with Phaptawan Suwannakudt

    As a Thai-Australian woman artist, Phaptawan Suwannakudt has long battled prejudice and discrimination relating to her gender. This disappointment with society’s dictates features at the heart of Phaptawan’s artistic practice. Spanning more than four decades, Phaptawan’s rich body of work includes paintings, sculptures and installations, informed by Buddhism, women’s issues and cross-cultural dialogue. Now her talents are on display on the global stage once again, in ‘The National 2021: New Australian Art’ from 26 March to 5 September 2021.
    In this episode of SSEAC Stories, Phaptawan Suwannakudt chats to Dr Natali Pearson about identity, power, and placemaking in the space in-between, recounting how she overcame hurdles to her artistic education and practice in what was once a male-dominated art scene, to become one of Australia’s and Thailand’s most prominent female artists.
    Phaptawan Suwannakudt (born in Thailand, 1959), is an internationally acclaimed Thai contemporary artist. She trained as a mural painter with her father, the late master Paiboon Suwannakudt, and subsequently led a team of painters that worked extensively in Buddhist temples throughout Thailand in the 1980s-90s. She was also involved in the women artists group ‘Tradisexion’ in 1995, and later in ‘Womanifesto’. Phaptawan relocated to Australia in 1996 where she completed a Master of Visual Arts at the Sydney College of the Arts. She has exhibited extensively in Australia, Thailand and internationally. Most recently, her work was featured in 'Beyond Bliss', the Inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale in 2018-2019, as well as in the 2020 Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts in Melbourne, Australia. Many of her works are held in public and private collections locally and overseas, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Thailand, the National Gallery Singapore, and the Thai Embassy in Paris, among others. You can find more information about Phaptawan Suwannakudt on her website: phaptawansuwannakudt.com/.
    For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: sydney.edu.au/sseac.
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    • 22 min
    Ji Zhe et al., "Buddhism after Mao: Negotiations, Continuities, and Reinventions" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    Ji Zhe et al., "Buddhism after Mao: Negotiations, Continuities, and Reinventions" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    With over 100 million followers, Buddhism in the People's Republic of China now fosters the largest community in the world of individuals who self-identify as Buddhists. Although Buddhism was harshly persecuted during the Cultural Revolution under the leadership of Mao Zedong, Buddhist communities around the country were able to revive their traditions in various ways since the 1980s. 
    In the post-Mao era, Buddhism in China has been able to become a more visible, social, and cultural phenomenon. The editors of Buddhism after Mao: Negotiations, Continuities, and Reinventions (U Hawaii Press, 2020), Ji Zhe, Gareth Fisher, and André Laliberté observes: "Numerous temples and monasteries have received official permission and even encouragement to rebuild and expand, and the party-state has directly engaged Buddhist groups in activities to promote social welfare, national unity, and the PRC's soft power." Despite Buddhism's current size and influence in the PRC, the editors argue, it has received relatively little scholarly attention. Together with nine other scholars of modern and contemporary Buddhism in China, Buddhism After Mao attempts to fill this gap. 
    Ji, Fisher, and Laliberté point out that first of all, the rapid growth of Buddhism in the past few decades and its continued survival into the future has depended on the maintenance of a careful balance between varying interests and demands. This balance is achieved through negotiation, continuities, and reinventions, which also categorize the chapters of the book. 
    On the one hand, Buddhists have been negotiating with the post-Mao authoritarian and atheist state to maintain or expand legal spaces for Buddhist practices. On the other hand, Buddhists have been expected to rebuild or maintain continuities with the past to stay "legitimate" in both the state and society's eyes. However, through these processes of tension and negotiation, the contributors of the volume also observe innovations and inventions in Buddhist communities in contemporary China, which have emerged from both design and necessity on both discursive and practical levels. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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    • 1 tim. 32 min
    Richard M. Jaffe, "Seeking Sakyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Richard M. Jaffe, "Seeking Sakyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Though fascinated with the land of their tradition’s birth, virtually no Japanese Buddhists visited the Indian subcontinent before the nineteenth century. In the richly illustrated Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism (U Chicago Press, 2019), Richard M. Jaffe reveals the experiences of the first Japanese Buddhists who traveled to South Asia in search of Buddhist knowledge beginning in 1873. Analyzing the impact of these voyages on Japanese conceptions of Buddhism, he argues that South Asia developed into a pivotal nexus for the development of twentieth-century Japanese Buddhism. Jaffe shows that Japan’s growing economic ties to the subcontinent following World War I fostered even more Japanese pilgrimage and study at Buddhism’s foundational sites. Tracking the Japanese travelers who returned home, as well as South Asians who visited Japan, Jaffe describes how the resulting flows of knowledge, personal connections, linguistic expertise, and material artifacts of South and Southeast Asian Buddhism instantiated the growing popular consciousness of Buddhism as a pan-Asian tradition—in the heart of Japan.
    Dr. Richard M Jaffe is a Religious Studies Professor at Duke University focusing on Japanese Buddhism. He is also the director of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke.
    Samee Siddiqui is a former journalist who is currently a PhD Candidate at the Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation explores discussions relating to religion, race, and empire between South Asian and Japanese figures in Tokyo from 1905 until 1945. You can find him on twitter @ssiddiqui83
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    • 1 tim. 5 min
    Courtney Bruntz and Brooke Schedneck, "Buddhist Tourism in Asia" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    Courtney Bruntz and Brooke Schedneck, "Buddhist Tourism in Asia" (U Hawaii Press, 2020)

    This edited volume is the first book-length study of Buddhist tourism in contemporary Asia in the English language. Featuring chapters from diverse contributors from religious studies, anthropology, and art history, Buddhist Tourism in Asia (University of Hawaii Press, 2020) explores themes of Buddhist imaginaries, place-making, secularization, and commodification in three parts. The first part, Buddhist Imaginaries and Place-Making features four interesting chapters on how Buddhism is marketed and promoted to domestic and international tourists, as well as how these imaginaries “sediments” over time. The chapters in Part II, Secularizing the Sacred, reveal interestingly that Buddhist tourism tends to create alliances with secular forces as strategies to promote their traditions and sacred sites. Part III of the volume shifts to discussions of commodification in Buddhism and its consequences. Here, contributors show that commodification is not necessarily at odds with Buddhism nor is it a new phenomenon. Covering a wide range of Buddhist sites across Asia and their multi-layered participants in Buddhist tourism, this book uses the unique lens of tourism to offer fresh perspectives on Buddhist spaces, identities, and practices.
    Courtney Bruntz is Assistant Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies, at Doane University
    Brooke Schedneck is Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, at Rhodes College
    Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.
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    • 1 tim. 1 min.
    Geoffrey C. Goble, "Chinese Esoteric Buddhism: Amoghavajra, the Ruling Elite, and the Emergence of a Tradition" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Geoffrey C. Goble, "Chinese Esoteric Buddhism: Amoghavajra, the Ruling Elite, and the Emergence of a Tradition" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    In his recent book, Chinese Esoteric Buddhism: Amoghavajra, the Ruling Elite, and the Emergence of a Tradition (Columbia University Press, 2019), Geoffrey Goble examines the emergence and early history of esoteric Buddhism in China. In contrast to earlier scholarship, Goble contends that it was really Amoghavajra (rather than the two patriarchs preceding him in the lineage) who systematized esoteric Buddhism into a somewhat internally coherent collection of texts and practices. Goble looks at why the Tang-period elite found Amoghavajra’s system so attractive (which was in part due to esoteric Buddhism’s military applications). He also explores the way in which esoteric Buddhism managed to neatly fit into a larger system that Goble calls imperial religion, and examines the reasons why there was some confusion after Amoghavajra’s death as to whether or not his teachings constituted a distinct tradition. This book delves into political, military, and intellectual history to give us an account of the period that will be fascinating for anyone interested in Tang-period Buddhism, and for anyone interested more broadly in the relationships between religious traditions and elite patronage systems. I hope that you enjoy the interview.
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    • 1 tim. 10 min
    Michal Pagis, "Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    Michal Pagis, "Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

    There is a strong interest today in turning inward to explore the mind and body. Mindfulness meditation exemplifies this trend, and has become increasingly well-known and widely practiced. In Inward: Vipassana Meditation and the Embodiment of the Self (University of Chicago Press, 2019), Michal Pagis, who lectures in sociology at Bar-Ilan university, explores in depth one school of mindfulness, or vipassana, founded by the Indian teacher S.N. Goenka and now established in countries around the world. Pagis draws on her own meditation experience and on in-depth interviews with vipassana meditators in both Israel and the United States. She explores the communities that form when people go on silent meditation retreats, the impact of focusing on bodily sensations over the course of an intensive retreat, and the ways that retreat practice affect practitioners and those close to them.
    Jack Petranker is the Director of the Center for Creative Inquiry and the Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley, CA. He presents programs in Full Presence Mindfulness, an approach grounded in the teachings of Tibetan lama Tarthang Tulku.
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    • 1 tim. 3 min

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