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2018 Graduate Student Symposium: Buddhist Political Engagements

October 5, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Buddhist Political Engagements

How has Buddhist thought, cosmology, or ethics been used to engage, disengage, critique, or conform to systems of social and political power? Graduate student presenters will explore the various discursive strategies Buddhists have used historically and contemporarily to reimagine Buddhist worlds in the present moment, to critique or support political systems, and develop practices and approaches to the path in line or at odds with social norms.

Melissa Anne-Marie Curley will deliver the keynote address, “Impure Land: Ethical Living for Evil People”

Dr. Curley is an assistant professor in the department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. Her work focuses on Buddhism, particularly Pure Land Buddhism, in relation to modern understandings of selfhood and the state. Her first book, Pure Land, Real World: Modern Buddhism, Japanese Leftists, and the Utopian Imagination, examines modernist reinterpretations of images of utopia and exile in the context of the Asia-Pacific War. She is currently working on a project exploring Buddhist engagements with self-help in East Asia and North America, from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first.

This event is free and open to the public. Visit our Facebook page to RSVP.

Symposium Schedule

First Session: 1:00 – 2:30
Brent Beavers
Graduate Theological Union and Institute of Buddhist Studies
“The Gender Transformation of Avalokiteśvara”

Brianna K. Morseth
Dharma Realm Buddhist University
“Taixu and Buddhism in Taiwan: Coming down from the mountain and out from the cave”

Timothy Loftus
Temple University
“Making a Case for Inclusion: Ambedkar’s Buddhism”

Adrien Chorn
University of California, Berkeley
“Buddhist-Rightful Resistance: Monastic Activism in Contemporary Cambodia”


Second Session: 3:00 – 4:00
Blayne Higa
Institute of Buddhist Studies
“Coming Out” as Buddhist: The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and the Struggle for Marriage Equality

CJ Dunford
Graduate Theological Union and Institute of Buddhist Studies
Minority Stress- and Trauma-Informed Shin Buddhist Pastoral Care for LGBTQ Communities

Ismail Buffins
Harvard Divinity School
Anger, Interdependence, and Democracy: Subaltern Perspectives on Buddhist Soteriology


Keynote: 4:30 – 5:30
Melissa Anne-Marie Curley
“Impure Land: Ethical Living for Evil People”


October 5, 2018
1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Institute of Buddhist Studies
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Jodo Shinshu Center (IBS)
2140 Durant Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704 United States
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