Buddhist Activism in Greater China and Beyond Subject of Conference at OSU


CORVALLIS, Ore. What role has modern Chinese Buddhist activism played in the making of modernity at both national and transnational levels? Scholars from across the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Belgium will take up that question and other issues in “Buddhist Activism in Greater China and Beyond,” the Chun Chiu Conference to be held at Oregon State University campus April 25-26.

Participants at this conference will situate the issue in the Greater China context though an analysis of the transnational travel of Buddhism in general and Chinese Buddhist activism in particular. They will examine the emergence of Buddhist activism in the late 19th century and Buddhists’ remaking of their tradition amid intellectual, social, and political changes in both main¬land China and Taiwan.

The conference will also examine how the Chinese have taken part in creating “engaged Buddhism” as a global phenomenon and, more importantly, how Buddhism has served as an important cultural-intellectual resource for those who want to confront challenges posed by modern life.

“Buddhist activism has been a rising phenomenon in the modern/contemporary age,” said Hung-yok Ip, conference organizer and an OSU associate professor of history. “Granted, it is now widely recognized among scholars that many around the world have relied on Buddhism to address social, political and economic issues.

“However, issues themselves are never abstract, but situated in people’s lives,” Ip pointed out. “Therefore, participants of the conference will explore how Chinese Buddhists have used their faith to fight for national self-strengthening, to resist imperialism, to liberate the individual, to create gender equality and to bring comfort to society at large and their own local communities.”

The conference is free and open to the public. Sessions are scheduled for the Memorial Union Journey Room and the LaSells Stewart Center Agricultural Production Room, both on the OSU campus.

Conference participants include Marcus Bingenheimer, Dharma Drum Buddhist College; James Blumenthal, OSU; James Carter, Saint Joseph’s University; Elise Devido, National Taiwan Normal University; Esther-Maria Guggenmos, Ghent University; Hung-yok Ip, OSU; Charles B. Jones, Catholic University of America; Alexander Mayer, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of San Diego; Ven. Yifa, University of the West; Xue Yu, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Yuan Yuan, Duke University; and Ven. Zhiru, Pomona College.

The conference is presented by the Chun Chiu Endowment at OSU and the university’s Department of History with support from the Center for the Humanities. The Chiu Conference and Lecture Series are made possible by a gift from Chun Chiu, an OSU alumnus.

For more information, call 541-737-8560 or visit http://www.oregonstate.edu/cla/history.

Chun Chiu Conference Buddhist Activism in Greater China and Beyond April 25-26, 2008

Friday, April 25 Journey Room, Joyce Powell Leadership Center Memorial Union

Noon - Introduction

12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Chun Chiu Lecture Yifa, (University of the West): “To Build a Pure Land on Earth—Socially Engaged Humanistic Buddhism Advocated by the Buddha Light Monastery in Taiwan”

2:30 – 4:45 p.m. Panel I: Globalizing Buddhism • Elise Devido (National Taiwan University): “The Influence of Chinese Master Taixu on Buddhism in Vi?tnam, 1920s–1960s” Discussant: Xue Yu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

• Karma Lekse Tsomo (University of San Diego): “Socially Engaged Buddhist Nuns: Activism in Taiwan and North America” Discussant: Zhiru (Pomona College)

• James Blumenthal (Oregon State University): “Engaged Buddhists: Engaged in What? Taking a Step Back to Consider a Buddhist Theory of Justice” Discussant: Karma Lekshe Tsomo (University of San Diego)

Saturday, April 26 Agricultural Production Room LaSells Stewart Center

9:30 – 11:45 a.m. Panel II: How Did Chinese Buddhist Activism Begin? The Late Qing and Early Republican Period

• Hung-yok Ip (Oregon State University): “The Power of Interconnectivity: Tan Sitong’s Invention of Buddhist Historical Agency in Late Qing China” Discussant: Elise Devido (National Taiwan Normal University)

• Yuan Yuan (Duke University): “Female Buddhist Activism in Republican China, 1911–1949” Discussant: Elise Devido (National Taiwan Normal University)

• James Carter (Saint Joseph’s University): “Buddhism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Manchuria” Discussant: Alexander Mayer (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

1 – 2:30 p.m. Panel III: Buddhist Activism in Communist China and Taiwan in the Mid-20th Century

• Xue Yu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong): “Buddhist Contribution to the Socialist Transformation of Buddhism: Activities of Ven. Juzan 1949–1953” Discussant: Alexander Mayer (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

• Marcus Bingenheimer (Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan): “Writing Buddhist History of Thought in the 20th Century—Yinshun (1906–2005) in the context of Chinese Buddhist Historiography" Discussant: Alexander Mayer (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

2:45 – 4:15 p.m. Panel IV: Buddhist Activism in Taiwan: The Contemporary Scene

• Esther-Maria Guggenmos (Ghent University, Belgium): “Does Engaged Buddhism Really Reach the People Addressed? The Impact of Engaged Buddhism and Modernization on Contemporary Biographical Self-construction of Lay Buddhists in Taiwan” Discussant: Zhiru (Pomona College)

• Charles Jones (Catholic University of America): “Modernization and Traditionalism in Buddhist Almsgiving: The Case of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-chi Association in Taiwan” Discussant: Zhiru (Pomona College)