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Podcast

Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Buddhist Ritual

How does discipline impact the way we see Buddhist ritual? How can more diverse disciplinary conversations help scholars see ritual in new ways? Five scholars from four time zones come together from around the world to discuss the impacts of interdisciplinary approaches to Buddhist ritual.
Podcast

Buddhism in the critical classroom

How do we deal with different cultural languages when teaching an Introduction to Buddhism course? Is cultural familiarity something to be broken immediately and displaced by new concepts and perspectives? Is it to be leveraged as devices for easy onboarding to other, more unfamiliar terms and ideas? Are they to be outright ignored? David Robertson is joined by Matthew Hayes
Podcast

What is Mindfulness? A Critical Religious Studies Approach

Any casual user of social media can’t have missed the increasing number of adverts for dozens of ‘mindfulness’ apps. Perhaps you have encountered the term in the workplace or in a healthcare setting? It seems that, in the contemporary West, mindfulness is everywhere. But what is it? How popular is it? What is its connection to particular forms of Buddhism? Can it ever be considered wholly secular or is it necessarily religious? And why does this matter, and for whom? Today, Chris is joined by Ville Husgafvel of the University of Helsinki to discuss these important questions surrounding an increasingly pervasive phenomenon that has received little engagement from the critical religious studies community.
Response

Buddhists and the future of democratic space in Myanmar

Melissa Crouch’s recent edited volume Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim-Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging is a very welcome addition to the dialogue on Buddhist-Muslim relations in Southeast Asia. In the podcast Melissa alludes to a particular phenomenon around South and Southeast Asia.
Podcast

Muslims, NGOs, and the future of democratic space in Myanmar

The critical situation of the Rohingyas has cast a shadow over Myanmar’s process of democratization and drawn attention to some aggressively un-civil sectors of this Buddhist majority country’s Muslim minority population. In this interview with Melissa Crouch, ...
Podcast

Religion and the Psy-Disciplines

In this podcast, Dr. Christopher Harding uses his research on psychoanalysis and Buddhism in modern Japan to tackle the two-way dialogue between religion and the psy-disciplines. How have these shaped each other, and what are tensions between them?
Response

Not In That Dead Body

Significantly more people are willing to entertain the plausibility of reincarnation than are likely to wholeheartedly adopt reincarnation into their existing belief structure. Interdisciplinary pioneers of otherwise uncharted territory in the (CSR) are apt to ask some of the most provocative yet fundamental questions of human existence. These questions extend not only across the lifespan, but also into the realm of continued existence after death.
Podcast

Encounters Between Buddhism and the West

In this story is a continuation of "dissident orientalism", a conflict inherent within the colonial project wherein communities and personal trajectories become embedded within local religious contexts. A distinction made, both in Ireland and Burma, between native religion and the religion of the coloniser serves ...
Response

Learning to Unlearn “Religion”: Jason Ānanda Josephson on the Invention of Religion in Japan

Would it be better to say “Japanese Religions”? How about “religions of Japan”? Or, is “religion” even the best word to use to describe the Japanese traditions we’re studying? One of the first Religious Studies courses in which I enrolled was titled “Japanese Religion.” There were several themes running through the course, but the one that stuck with me as the most important was something the professor asked during the first meeting of the class:
Response

Of Demon Kings and Protestant Yakṣas

The disappointment of Western pacifists here is not unlike the reaction of early Orientalists who, disappointed by the ritualism and deity-worship they found in living Buddhist cultures, described a degenerate Buddhism. Let me begin by saying that this is not a critique, but an effort to contribute to a conversation about issues that have affected me personally as a scholar. In particular,...
Podcast

Sri Lankan Buddhism and Colonialism

Usually one of the first associations upon hearing ‘Sri Lankan Buddhism’ is either the religious violence that swept across the island in the recent decades, or the Pali canon and Theravada Buddhism. In this interview with Anja Pogacnik, Dr. Stephen Berkwitz doesn’t really speak of either.
Podcast

Pilgrimage in Japan and Beyond: Part 2

Professor Ian Reader discusses his publication ‘Pilgrimage in the Marketplace’, which explores the very ‘worldly’ conditions of development, popularisation, and ultimately, survival of pilgrimage centres in connection to the dynamics of the marketplace through which the ‘sacred’ as a category can be sustained.
Podcast

Pilgrimage in Japan and Beyond: Part 1

Professor Ian Reader discusses his publication ‘Pilgrimage in the Marketplace’, which explores the very ‘worldly’ conditions of development, popularisation, and ultimately, survival of pilgrimage centres in connection to the dynamics of the marketplace through which the ‘sacred’ as a category can be sustained.
Response

Concepts and Symbols, What Does It All Mean? Examining Immigrant Buddhists in Toronto

"Concerning this worry surrounding the “dilution” of Buddhism that Barua identifies amongst the Buddhist immigrants in Toronto, some important questions arise for scholars of religion as a whole. Throughout the interview terms like “religion”, “faith”, “theology” are thrown about, ironically often in close proximity to discussions on how Buddhism is tied into not just the immigrants religious lives but also and perhaps most importantly their culture."
Podcast

D. Mitra Barua on Immigrant Buddhism in the West

"...Rebranding the Buddhist concept of Harmony to be a more politically comparable term to the Canadian mosaic..." Dr. D. Mitra Barua is an instructor of Religious Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, and has a Masters in Buddhist Philosophy undertaken in Sri Lanka.
Response

Religion, Violence, and Cognition

"...it could be more conceptually misleading to talk about ‘religious violence’ than it would be to talk about ‘violence involving religion’. Whereas the former can appear to refer to a distinct category, the latter phrasing implicitly reminds us that human violence is the broader category and that sometimes religious considerations can be involved in that, among others."
Podcast

Brian Victoria on Zen Buddhist Terrorism and Holy War

Is there something particular about religion which makes it a more potent ‘violence enabling mechanism’ than other factors? Are some religions more likely to inspire violence than others? And why should scholars even care? In this interview, Chris discusses these issues and more with Professor Brian Victoria, who, in addition to his scholarly credentials, is a fully ordained Zen Buddhist priest.
Response

Material Religion and Visual Culture: Objects as Visible, Invisible and Virtual

David Morgan, Professor of Religion at Duke University, has written extensively on the subject of material and visual culture. In a recent interview with Christopher Cotter, he provides an overview of the field of material religion and introduces his new book The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture and the Social Life of Feeling (2012). In this review, I briefly tease out some of the themes from the interview, present a few snippets from some of Morgan’s publications and finally,
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