American Academy of Religion Meeting in Denver

Scott Mitchell  |  October 26, 2018

The American Academy of Religion, North America’s largest professional organization dedicated to the academic study of religion, will hold its annual meeting this November in Denver, Colorado, from November 17-20. This annual event provides ample opportunities for Buddhist Studies scholars to share their work, and several IBS faculty, as well as our institutional partners, participate in the conference.

We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the Buddhist Studies or IBS-related events happening this year. If you’re attending, be sure to check out all of the information provided by the AAR, including area guides, resources for first-time attendees, and, of course, the full program book.

Buddhism and National Security in 20th Century America
The International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, who IBS has a long-standing institutional relationship with, is hosting a panel at the AAR on Buddhism and National Security in 20th Century America featuring Adeana McNicholl, Duncan Williams, Laura Harrington, and Richard Jaffee. The event will be on Sunday, November 18, and is open to the public (registration for the AAR is not required).

Book Panel on José Cabezón’s Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism
Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
The purpose of this panel is to engage José Ignacio Cabezón in a conversation about his new publication Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 2017). Cabezón’s encyclopedic work breaks new ground in the fields of South Asian religions and studies in religion and sexuality, representing the culmination of his multi-decade quest to explore classical Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan texts for insights into the development of Buddhist conceptions of sexual desire and its prohibition, sexual ethics, sexual deviance, multiple genders, and sexual misconduct.

From Rape Texts to Bro Buddhism: Critical Canonical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Sexual Abuse Scandals in Western Buddhism
Sunday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Since the 1980s, Western Buddhism has been rocked by a series of sexual scandals that have cut across sectarian lines but have been particularly dominant in Zen and Tibetan Buddhist “convert” communities. This panel aims to spur an academic conversation, offering multiple perspectives on the scandals. Panelists include Amy P. Langenberg, Wakoh Shannon Hickey, Emily Cohen, and Ann Gleig.

Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy
Saturday – 10:30 AM-12:30 PM
This panel introduces a new companion to Japanese Buddhist philosophy. It will present cutting edge and heretofore not presented approaches to the academic study of Buddhist philosophy in Japan. The selected papers will thematize the category of “Japanese Buddhism,” introduce one of the greatest philosophers in the history of Japanese Buddhism, Shinran and Hōnen, and expand the cannon of Japanese Buddhist philosophy by discussing the contributions of women philosophers in Japan. Panelists include Richard Payne, Dennis Hirota, Mark Blum, and Michiko Yusa.

Buddhist Responses to Capitalist Situations, Wealth and Excess, and Institutional Changes
Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Organized by Richard Payne and Fabio Rambelli, the Economics and Capitalism in the Study of Buddhism Seminary draws together four papers that include early Buddhism, and contemporary developments in the economics of Buddhism. This year’s panelists include James Mark Shields, Kin Cheung, Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, Matthew Milligan, and Charles D. Orzech.

Japanese Religion and the Meiji Restoration
Monday – 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
This panel critically re-contextualizes the Meiji Restoration in the study of Japanese religion by bringing together papers that challenge or further nuance dominant paradigms centered on this epoch-making event, such as State Shinto, the category of “religion,” millenarianism, and the Great Promulgation Campaign. Panelists include Takashi Miura, Eiko Namiki, Adam Lyons, Melissa Anne-Marie Curley, and James Mark Shields.

Film screening: The Departure
Monday – 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
The Departure follows a young Zen priest who administers a one-man suicide prevention program. The quietly powerful film shows how Buddhist clergy in Japan are refiguring their services into “spiritual care.” This is a central theme for the study of religion in contemporary Japan, where religious professionals and institutions struggle for relevance in the public sphere, and broaches issues of interest for a broader range of religious studies scholarship. The film also documents the human toll of spiritual labor, as this young father’s devotion to suicide counseling taxes his health and his family. The screening is sponsored by the generous support of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto. It will be followed by a pre-recorded question-and answer with the film’s director and a panel discussion by scholars on Buddhist responses to suicide and spiritual care in contemporary Japan.

There is far more than this happening at the AAR this year. Be sure to visit the program book, search for “Buddhism” or related topic, or scholars’ names, and see what’s available.

See you in Denver!