Mass Meditation: Practices and Discourses in Contemporary Global Buddhisms
October 6, 2017—Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California

This conference will focus on the phenomenon of mass meditation (e.g., lay meditation practices, mindfulness, secularization) in contemporary global Buddhism. Of particular focus will be the means by which Buddhist meditation is understood and promoted in various contexts. We welcome submissions that consider how meditation has gained an ambivalent relationship to Buddhism—sometimes being promoted as a “spiritual technology” not connected to any particular tradition, sometimes as the condition sine qua non for Buddhist identity and the only practice recommended by the Buddha. Through the presentations given, we hope to reflect not only on the ways that meditation has been constructed through the Buddhist encounter with modernity, but how it has altered modernity and modern peoples through its global impact.

Topics include but are not limited to: the origins and popularization of lay meditation practices in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka; the Vipassanā (Insight) and Mindfulness movements in  North America, Europe, and Asia; meditation practice and the construction of Buddhist identity or subjectivity; the “mystification” of meditation in promotional literature; the use of scientific language to justify and promote meditation both within and beyond Buddhist contexts.

Dr. Erik Braun, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and author of The Birth of Insight (co-winner of the 2014 Toshihide Numata Book Award in Buddhism), will serve as the symposium’s keynote speaker.

Graduate students at any stage of their program are encouraged to submit paper proposals. Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words to Thomas Calobrisi (tcalobrisi@ses.gtu.edu). The deadline for submission is July 15, 2017. Applicants will be notified about their submission by August 15, 2017.

Limited travel funds may be available; low-cost housing is available on site at the Jodo Shinshu Center.

Call for papers: grad student proposals due July 15, 2017

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