The making of global Buddhisms

In many ways, what we now think of as “Buddhism” was completely remade during the century which includes the imperial high-water mark of the late nineteenth century and the beginnings of anti-colonial movements and decolonisation in the first half of the twentieth. This period saw the globalisation of Buddhism in the development of the pan-Asian Buddhist revival as well as the first western Buddhists and substantial labour migration from traditionally Buddhist countries to many different parts of the globe.

A series of (so far) three international conferences has brought together researchers from many different countries and fields in this necessarily collaborative endeavour of studying Buddhist networks and organisers who were every bit as international and multilingual as the scholars now researching them. Below are details of the conference series to date:

Asian Buddhism: plural colonialisms and plural modernities (Kyoto University and Ryukoko University, 2014)

The conference poster can be viewed here and the programme is available here.


Bordering the borderless: faces of modern Buddhism in East Asia (Duke University, 2013)

The conference poster can be viewed here; the blurb is online here while the programme is available here.


Southeast Asia as a crossroads for Buddhist exchange: pioneer European Buddhists and Asian Buddhist networks 1860 – 1960 (University College Cork, 2012)

In September 2012 the Study of Religions Department, UCC organised a very successful international conference entitled “Southeast Asia as a crossroads for Buddhist exchange: pioneer European Buddhists and Asian Buddhist networks 1860 – 1960″. This conference brought together scholars from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland and the US to discuss this formative period and some of the fascinating individuals and events involved. In the event the presentations ranged even further than the title suggested and included Brazil and Indonesia, Japan and Tibet. A list of participants and abstracts for the conference can be found here, and the rest of the conference website is here.

A selection of the papers from the conference has been published as a special issue of the journal Contemporary Buddhism (vol 14 no 1, 2013). The introduction and one other paper are available in full at this site. The special issue has now also been published by Routledge in book form; full details here.

Articles in the special issue include:

Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer European Buddhists and globalising Asian networks 1860 – 1960″.

Brian Bocking, “Flagging up Buddhism: Charles Pfoundes (Omoie Tetzunostzuke) among the International Congresses and Expositions, 1893-1905″.

Tilman Frasch, “Buddhist councils in a time of transition: globalism, modernity and the preservation of textual traditions”.

Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, “Three boys on a great vehicle: ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ and a trans-national network”.

Alicia Turner, “The Bible, the bottle and the knife: religion as a mode of resisting colonialism for U Dhammaloka”.

Elizabeth Harris, “Ananda Metteyya: controversial networker, passionate critic”.

Phibul Choompolpaisal, “Tai-Burmese-Lao Buddhisms in the ‘modernising’ of Ban Thawai (Bangkok): the dynamic interaction between ethnic minority religion and British-Siamese centralisation in the late 19th/early 20th centuries”.

Laurence Cox, “Rethinking early western Buddhism: beachcombers, ‘going native’ and dissident Orientalism”.

Douglas Ober, ” ‘Like embers hidden in ashes, or jewels encrusted in stone’: Rahul Sankrtyayan, Dharmanand Kosambi and Buddhist activity in colonial India”.

Andrew Skilton,”Elective affinities: the reconstruction of a forgotten episode in the shared history of Thai and British Buddhism – Kapilavaddho and Wat Paknam”.

Philip Deslippe, “Brooklyn bhikkhu: how Salvatore Cioffi became the Venerable Lokanatha”.


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