Transnational Buddhism:

Philosophical, Anthropological and Historical Perspectives

The intensification of global interconnections over the last few decades has taken this transcultural inclination of Buddhism to yet another level. Buddhism in its multiple forms has become a transnational phenomenon characterized by the formation of extensive networks connecting religious specialists, disciples, centers of practice and study, and pilgrimage sites from across the globe. In addition, the distinctive solutions offered by Buddhist philosophy to various ontological and epistemological problems have been taken up by a growing number of contemporary philosophers and certain aspects of Buddhist meditation have been adopted and adapted in secular contexts to achieve wide popularity and considerable scholarly esteem. In turn, all of these developments reflect on and influence the way so-called traditional Buddhist communities live and understand themselves. More than ever before, the vigorous cultural and philosophical exchanges that constitute the basis of even the most “traditional” or “local” form of Buddhism and its academic study are apparent.

Symposium Panels

The philosophy panels will focus on the study of Buddhist philosophy as it is influenced by exchanges between scholars from different nations and cultures, highlighting in particular the exchange between traditional scholarship and modern academic research, considering, for example, how comparative philosophical perspectives transform our understanding of Buddhism and the world, or how transnational academic and scientific culture are transforming Buddhist ways of learning and reflecting.

The anthropology and history panel will consider this issue from anthropological and historical perspectives. Throughout its history, Buddhism has adopted unique forms as it acculturated to the various societies it reached, while in turn transforming those societies. The modern history of Buddhism has seen the rise of humanistic and engaged Buddhism as a result of its encounter with the western world, and globalization has led to more sustained encounters between the various schools of Buddhism as well as to the spread of Buddhism to traditionally non-Buddhist communities.

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