BBB Past Events
- Séagh Kehoe “Eating the “Spirit of the Grasslands”: The Trade and Slaughter of the Tibetan Mastiff” (4/12-2017)
- Inken Prohl : “The Economization of the Individual Changes in Buddhist Inspired Practices of Meditation.” (26/10-2017).
- Emma Martin : “The ‘Tibetan’ Singing Bowl: The significance of place attachment for a souvenir in motion” (29/9-2017)
- Ann Gleig : “The Dukkha of Racism: Racial Justice Work in American Convert Buddhism” (24/5-2017)
- Brooke Schedneck : “Spreading the Teachings in Northern Thailand: Buddhist Sites of Encounter as Spaces of Missionization” (23/5-2017)
- Yasmin Cho : “Labor and Money in Yachen Gar: The Role of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in a Monastic Economy” (11/5-2017)
- Steven Stanley and Ilmari Kortelainen : “On the ‘Universal’ Body-Mind of Mindfulness Training: Transforming Buddhist Meditation into a Self-Healing Laboratory” (10/5-2017)
- Kristina Eichel : “Pay Attention to Focused Attention in Mindfulness-Based Interventions” (10/5-2017)
- Emma Martin : “Valuing Buddhist Things: Religious objects and knowledge transfer in British India’s hill stations” (05/12-2016)
- Dan Smyer Yu : “Affordances of Tibetan Landscape: Eco-aesthetics and Post-Orientalism in Contemporary China” (11/10-2016)
- Jane Caple on “Moral logics of monastic economic reform in post-Mao Tibet” (23/5-2016)
- Cathy Cantwell : “Engaging the Senses in the Tibetan tantric “Major Practice Session” (sgrub chen)” (27/4-2016)
- Cameron David Warner : “The Precious Lord: The history and practice of the Jowo Shakyamuni of Lhasa, Tibet” (26/4-2016)
Posters of past events
17/1-2018: Conspicuous consumption? Ritual expenditure in a Tibetan Buddhist community in Amdo
4/12-2017: Eating the “Spirit of the Grasslands”: The Trade and Slaughter of the Tibetan Mastiff
26/10-2017: The Economization of the Individual: Changes in Buddhist Inspired Practices of Meditation
29/9-2017 The ‘Tibetan’ Singing Bowl: The significance of place attachment for a souvenir in motion
24/5-2017: The Dukkha of Racism: Racial Justice Work in American Convert Buddhism
Consider joining us for a public talk by Ann Gleig on the 24th of May, 2017, at 14.00.
Please register by sending a mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
23/5-2017: Spreading the Teachings in Northern Thailand: Buddhist Sites of Encounter as Spaces of Missionization
Consider joining us for a public talk by Brooke Schedneck on the 23rd of May, 2017, at 14.00.
Please register by sending a mail to: ccbs @ hum.ku.dk
11/5-2017: Labor and Money in Yachen Gar: The Role of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in a Monastic Economy
This talk examines how the invisible labor and economic activities conducted by Tibetan nuns contribute to the contemporary Tibetan Buddhist revivalism in China. Because of the attention given to the influence of Chinese disciples and charismatic Tibetan lamas, the nuns’ labor and contributions remain largely neglected or taken for granted, even though the population of nuns far surpasses the number of monks and laity in the leading Tibetan Buddhist communities. It is widely assumed that one of the primary economic drivers of revivalism has been the explosive growth in donations offered by middle-class Han Chinese disciples from urban centers. Interestingly, however, Chinese donors often send their money directly to individual lamas (usually their Tibetan shangshi), rather than to the institutions with which these lamas are associated. Thus, such donations provide only a partial explanation for the enduring economic sustainability of the large monastic communities in Tibet. These communities, in fact, rely heavily on limitless free labor, both spiritual and physical, by the nuns, and the ongoing influx of small remittances that the nuns bring in from their families. Based on my long-term ethnographic engagement with a large Tibetan Buddhist encampment called Yachen Gar, with a population of over 10,000 nuns (plus 2,000 monks and lay practitioners), I will show how the nuns’ hidden labor—what some might call “affective labor” or “immaterial labor” (Negri and Hardt 2000)—plays a crucial role in establishing and expanding Tibetan Buddhist revivalism in contemporary China. By drawing on ethnographic details about the labor practices of the nuns in Yachen and the circulation of money among the monastic head office, the nuns, and the nuns’ natal villages, I argue that the microeconomic activities of the nuns (consumption, circulations of goods and money, and small business practices, etc.) play a significant role in the success of the current Buddhist revivalism in China.
Bio: Yasmin Cho is a postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in 2015. She is currently completing a book manuscript addressing the religious mobilities and material engagements of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in their building of a mega-sized monastic encampment called Yachen Gar in northwestern Sichuan province.
10/5-2017: Steven Stanley and Ilmari Kortelainen On the ‘Universal’ Body-Mind of Mindfulness Training: Transforming Buddhist Meditation into a Self-Healing Laboratory
10/5-2017: Kristina Eichel Pay Attention to Focused Attention in Mindfulness-Based Interventions
05/12-2016: Valuing Buddhist Things: Religious objects and knowledge transfer in British India’s hill stations
We are very happy to announce that Emma Martin (University of Manchester) will come to Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen, to give a lecture on “Valuing Buddhist Things: Religious objects and knowledge transfer in British India’s hill stations” on December 5.
All are welcome, but registration is required. Send an e-mail to ccbs @ hum.ku.dk.
About the talk
During the winter months of 1912-13, the British Political Officer Charles Bell (1870-1945) invited a Buddhist lama to the Gangtok Residency in Sikkim to, “to explain the meaning of those Tibetan curios which were concerned with religion”. He asked the lama to appraise and describe a range of objects, from Buddhist statues to meditational paintings known as thangka. This presentation will not only identify the methods used by the lama, but it will reconstruct how he transferred Tibetan ideas of connoisseurial and aesthetic value to someone who did not already have the cultural capital to appreciate such things.
This object-led encounter in a colonial hill station offers insights into the local histories of empire. It highlights the importance of objects and their abilities to speak of previously unmapped networks and relationships. Such meetings not only offer a counterpoint to colonial intellectual and cultural power, but they reveal how the impact of imperial rule brought these two men, from very different worlds, together.
Finally, this paper will reunite the lama Barmiok Jedrung Karma Palden Chogyal (1871-1942) with this process of knowledge transfer. For fifty years this influential Sikkim man was an unidentified ‘other’ in the museum archives that hold Charles Bell’s List of Curios; the unpublished object inventory Bell produced following his discussions with men like the lama from Barmiok. By reconnecting these men and the religious objects that brought them together it becomes clear that Buddhist things, circulating in colonial worlds, were above all else highly political offerings.
Emma Martin is Lecturer in Museology at University of Manchester and Senior Curator Ethnology at National Museums Liverpool. Her research focuses on object-led histories of empire and specifically the British-Tibetan encounter. She has published on colonial gift exchange and object-based knowledge production and is now leading a new international research network called, Object Lesson from Tibet & the Himalaya, which will bring together academics, museums and Tibetan communities in order to develop methods for understanding the role of objects in processes of knowledge production, loss and recovery.
The lecture is part of the BBB-lecture series and sponsored by the Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities.
11/10-2016: Affordances of Tibetan Landscape: Eco-aesthetics and Post-Orientalism in Contemporary China
Time: 11 October 2016, 13:00-14:30
Place: Faculty of Humanities, Karen Blixens Vej 4 (Room: 27.0.47)
Organizer: The Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies & ThinkChina.dk
This talk, based on Dan Smyer Yü’s latest book entitled Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (De Gruyter 2015), presents a case study of the affective aspect of Tibetan landscape and its wider implications in art, film, literature, and cultural critique in contemporary China. It addresses the conceptual and ethnographic topics of what Smyer Yü calls the “affordances” and “the mirage effects” of Tibetan landscape in the social arenas of Buddhist practices, tourism, entertainment, and political engagements. While it converses with the existing scholarly critiques on what is known as the “imagined Tibet,” it presents an argument that the imagined Tibet is not merely an affair of human cultural and political encounters but, more critically, is also a geopsychic and geopoetic effect of Tibet’s unique eco-geological landscape. Based on his ethnographic research, Smyer Yü expands the frontier of landscape studies by reconceptualizing environmental affordances and the interfaces of mindscape-landscape, place-psyche, and eco-aesthetics and geopolitics.
Short bio: Dan Smyer Yü
Dan Smyer Yü is Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University. He received his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 2006, specializing in trans-regional studies of ethnic relations, religious revitalizations, Sino-Tibetan Buddhist interactions, and globalization. Prior to his current faculty appointment, he was a Research Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at University of Göttingen. His recent publications include The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (monograph, Routledge 2011) and Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (monograph, De Gruyter 2015). His current research directions are theories of transregional studies, transboundary governance of natural and human heritages, water and religious diversity, religion and peacebuilding, comparative studies of secularisms in the greater Himalayan region. His projects and publications have been funded by the Swedish Research Council, Canadian SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, the National Social Sciences Fund of China, the German Ministry for Education and Research Fund, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, and the Pacific Rim Research Program (President’s Office, University of California). He is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His widely screened films include Embrace (50 min. Tibetan mountain culture and ecology 2011) and Rainbow Rider (55 min. Tibetan Buddhism in China 2013).
Professor Dan Smyer Yü is a keynote speakers at the conference Buddhism, business and economic relations – in Asia and beyond, 12-14 October at University of Copenhagen.
23/5-2016: Moral logics of monastic economic reform in post-Mao Tibet
Time: 23rd of May, 2016, 5 PM
Location: KUA2 – room will be announced upon registration
Everyone is welcome, but you are required to register by sending an email to: ccbs @ hum.ku.dk.
27/4-2016: Engaging the Senses in the Tibetan tantric “Major Practice Session” (sgrub chen)
Please join us at the University of Copenhagen on Wednesday the 27th of April for a talk by Cathy Cantwell.
Time: 5-7 PM
Location: KUA2, 12.0.37
It is well-known that tantric Buddhism takes a different approach towards sensual pleasures than mainstream Buddhism. While accepting the analysis of the problematic attachment and aversion resulting from indulgence in sensual gratification, the tantric spiritual discipline involves enlisting bodily experiences, and transforming ordinary body, speech and mind into their enlightened counterparts.
The ways in which the senses are used in a “Major Practice Session“, a communal ritual lasting for some ten days or so, is explored in this lecture. In such a practice session, the meditations and ritualised performances are led by the principal lama and his team of expert meditators and ritualists, while the larger assembly need not necessarily actively join in. It is enough if they sit receptively and engage their senses – watching the performance, listening to the chanting and music, smelling the incense, touching the ritual implements, and tasting the consecrated pills.
Thus, they can develop the “pure vision” of the world as an enlightened “maṇḍala“. The emphasis on sensual experience rather than on expressions of belief, or active congregational participation in the liturgy, means that attendance is relatively open, with Buddhists of other schools, and non-Buddhists, able to participate.
Cathy Cantwell has been a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, since 2002. She is President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies (from 2015), and is currently a KHK Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bochum (October 2015 – September 2016). Her work focuses on Tibetan and Himalayan tantric rituals of all periods from the 10th century CE, and especially the ritual texts and practices deriving from the “Early Transmissions” (snga ‘gyur rnying ma).
This work has included text critical and historical analysis, as well as ethnographic study of contemporary rituals. Her most recent book publications are: “A Noble Noose of Methods, the Lotus Garland Synopsis:A Mahāyoga Tantra and its Commentary” (Vienna 2012, together with Robert Mayer), and “Buddhism: The Basics” (London 2010).
She has recently jointly edited a Special Edition (with Robert Mayer, Jowita Kramer and Stefano Zacchetti) of the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (Volume 36/37, 2015), entitled, Authors and Editors in the Literary Traditions of Asian Buddhism.
26/4-2016: The Precious Lord: The history and practice of the Jowo Shakyamuni of Lhasa, Tibet
Time: 26th of April, 2016, 4-5 PM
Location: KUA2 – room 12.0.25