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Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books

Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books
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Interviews with Scholars of Buddhism about their New Books




Geoffrey Barstow, "Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

Tibetan Buddhism teaches compassion toward all beings, a category that explicitly includes animals. Slaughtering animals is morally problematic at best and, at worst, completely incompatible with a religious lifestyle. Yet historically most Tibetans—both monastic and lay—have made meat a regular part of their diet. In Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet (Columbia University Press, 2018) of the place of vegetarianism within Tibetan religiosity,...


Ronald E. Purser, "McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality" (Repeater Books, 2019)

In his recent exposé, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Repeater Books, 2019), Ronald Purser Ph.D. takes a hard look at the mindfulness movement that has taken society by storm. Purser opens the book by questioning elements of the movement that have lead to its success: its scientific credibility, its secular façade, the prevailing discourse in society around stress, and other topics. Purser’s main concern, however, is that mindfulness is being used to...


Levi McLaughlin, "Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of A Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

Being Japan’s largest and most influential new religious organization, Soka Gakkai (Society for the Creation of Value) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) claims to have 12 million members in 192 countries around the world. Founded in the 1930s by a group of teachers focused on educational reform, Soka Gakkai has since evolved from its grassroot origins as a movement inspired by Nichiren Buddhism to a highly significant source of influence in contemporary Japanese education and politics. In...


William M. Gorvine, "Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint" (Oxford UP, 2018)

In his new book, Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint (Oxford University Press, 2018), William M. Gorvine provides a multifaceted analysis of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1934), one of the most prominent modern representatives of the Tibetan Bön tradition. Engaging two written versions of Shardza’s life story as well as oral histories gathered during fieldwork in eastern Tibet and Bön exile communities in India, Gorvine explores the ways in which Shardza has been...


Berthe Jansen, "The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet" (U California Press, 2018)

The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet (University of California Press, 2018) discusses the position of the monasteries in pre-1950s Tibetan Buddhist societies and how that position was informed by the far-reaching relationship of monastic Buddhism with Tibetan society, economy, law, and culture. Berthe Jansen's study of monastic guidelines is the first study of its kind to examine the genre in detail. The book contains an exploration of its parallels in...


Max Oidtmann, "Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

In 1995, the People’s Republic of China resurrected the technology of the “Golden Urn,” a Qing-era tool which involves the identification of the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks by drawing lots from a golden vessel. Why would the Chinese Communist Party revive this former ritual? What powers lie in the symbolism of the “Golden Urn”? Why was this tradition invented? Using both archival sources in the Manchu language and chronicles of Tibetan elites, Max Oidtmann answers...


Daniel Veidlinger, "From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

In this episode of New Books in Buddhist Studies, I am joined by Daniel Veidlinger to discuss his exciting new book From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas (University of Hawaii Press, 2018), which offers a theoretically compelling exploration of the types communicative “ecosystems” in which Buddhist ideas have flourished throughout history. Drawing inspiration from evolutionary biology and media theory, Veidlinger’s book begins by...


Julia Cassaniti, "Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia" (Cornell UP, 2018)

How do you understand mindfulness? Is your understanding limited by your own culture’s definition of what mindfulness is? These are some of the questions you will ask yourself while reading Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia (Cornell University Press). In today’s podcast, Prof. Julia Cassaniti takes us on a tour of three Theravada Buddhist countries (Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) to show us how mindfulness is understood in this region and what this, in turn, can teach...


Jessica Starling, "Guardians of the Buddha’s Home: Domestic Religion in Contemporary Jōdo Shinshū" (U Hawaii Press, 2019)

In her recent ethnography, Guardians of the Buddha’s Home: Domestic Religion in Contemporary Jōdo Shinshū (University of Hawaii Press, 2019), Prof. Jessica Starling invites us into the daily lives of the bōmori, the spouses of priests in the Japanese Jōdo Shinshū, or True Pure Land, tradition. Focusing on domestic religion, Prof. Starling shows us how the bōmori create community by cleaning the temple altar, how they express gratitude for their salvation by carefully managing temple...


Ashley Thompson, "Engendering the Buddhist State: Territory, Sovereignty and Sexual Difference in the Inventions of Angkor" (Routledge, 2016)

Thanks to the international tourism industry most people are familiar with the spectacular ruins of Angkor, the great Cambodian empire that lasted from about the 9th to the early 15th century. We are especially familiar with those haunting images of the face of King Jayavarman VII, represented in the stone sculptures of the Bayon temple in Angkor Thom. Archaeologists and historians tend to relate the history of the Angkorean era through the dynasties of great kings. These are, of course,...


Megan Bryson, “Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China” (Stanford UP, 2016)

Megan Bryson, Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, centers gender as an analytical framework in the study of Buddhism. The benefit of this approach is vividly demonstrated in Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China (Stanford University Press, 2016), which uncovers the transformation of the goddess Baijie over several centuries. Bryson’s research explores the various social and historical contexts of the Dali region in Southwest China where...


Eric Huntington, "Creating the Universe: Depictions of the Cosmos in Himalayan Buddhism" (U Washington Press, 2018)

Eric Huntington’s Creating the Universe: Depictions of the Cosmos in Himalayan Buddhism (University of Washington Press, 2018) explores the various ways that Buddhists have imagined and represented the cosmos over the last nearly two thousand years of Buddhist history in Tibet, Nepal and India. It is a lushly illustrated volume, which trains readers to think beyond the textual, and enter the wider world of Buddhist art, material culture, architecture, archeology, and ritual...


Matthew W. King, "Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood: A Mongolian Monk in the Ruins of the Qing Empire" (Columbia UP, 2019)

After the fall of the Qing empire, amid nationalist and socialist upheaval, Buddhist monks in the Mongolian frontiers of the Soviet Union and Republican China faced a chaotic and increasingly uncertain world. In this book, Matthew W. King tells the story of Zawa Damdin, one Mongolian monk’s efforts to defend Buddhist monasticism in revolutionary times, revealing an unexplored landscape of countermodern Buddhisms beyond old imperial formations and the newly invented national subject. Ocean...


Jane Caple, "Morality and Monastic Revival in Post-Mao Tibet" (U Hawaii Press, 2019)

In this podcast, I speak with Prof. Jane Caple about her recently published book, Morality and Monastic Revival in Post-Mao Tibet (University of Hawaii Press, 2019). The revival of mass monasticism in Tibet in the early 1980s is one of the most extraordinary examples of religious resurgence in post-Mao China. Caple argues that in order to understand the shape that this revival has taken, we need to look beyond the Chinese state and take into account the multiple competing moral terrains that...


Ann Gleig, "American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity" (Yale UP, 2019)

In her new book, American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity (Yale University Press, 2019), Ann Gleig makes a major contribution to scholarship on American Buddhism. Gleig focuses on meditation-based convert Buddhist lineages in North America, and in particular she is interested in the generational changes underway in these groups. The first generations of convert Buddhist teachers often modernized the tradition in distinctly American ways, and now Gen X and millennial Buddhists are...


Ward Keeler, "The Traffic in Hierarchy: Masculinity and Its Others in Buddhist Burma" (U Hawaii Press, 2017)

Michael Walzer once began a book with the advice of a former teacher to “always begin negatively”. Tell your readers what you are not going to do and it will relieve their minds, he says. Then they will be more inclined to accept what seems a modest project. Whether or not Ward Keeler had this writing strategy firmly in mind when he wrote the preface to The Traffic in Hierarchy: Masculinity and Its Others in Buddhist Burma (University of Hawaii Press, 2017), it’s the one he adopts, and with...


Bhikkhu Anālayo, "Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research" (Wisdom Publications, 2018)

In today’s podcast, I speak with German professor and Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Anālayo about his book Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research (Wisdom Publications, 2018). Bhikkhu Anālayo skillfully analyzes the early Buddhist doctrine of rebirth before discussing the debate around rebirth throughout Buddhist history. In the last half of his book, he presents current research on rebirth as well as a number of thought-provoking case studies. With Bhikkhu Analayo’s trademark combination of...


Ira Helderman, "Prescribing the Dharma: Psychotherapists, Buddhist Traditions, and Defining Religion" (UNC Press, 2019)

In today's podcast, I speak with American professor Ira Helderman about his newly published book, Prescribing the Dharma: Psychotherapists, Buddhist Traditions, and Defining Religion (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) which surveys the diversity of Buddhist practices used in psychotherapy today. Ira shows that psychotherapists approaches to Buddhist traditions are moulded by how they relate to what is and is not religion. This book will be of interest to scholars of psychotherapy,...


Nathan McGovern, "The Snake and The Mongoose: The Emergence of Identity in Early Indian Religion" (Oxford UP, 2018)

The history of Indian religions in the centuries leading up to the common era has been characterized in the scholarship by two distinct overarching traditions: the Brahmans (associated with Vedic texts, caste, and Vedic rituals) and the renouncer (śramaṇa) movements we see in the Upanishads, and in Jainism and Buddhism. Were these traditions at odds with each other as “snake and mongoose” (attributed to the 2nd-century BCE Sanskrit grammarian Patañjali)? Does “Brahmanism” pre-exist this...


Discussion of Massive Online Peer Review and Open Access Publishing

In the information age, knowledge is power. Hence, facilitating the access to knowledge to wider publics empowers citizens and makes societies more democratic. How can publishers and authors contribute to this process? This podcast addresses this issue. We interview Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, whose book, The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance (forthcoming with MIT Press) is undergoing a Massive Online Peer-Review (MOPR) process, where everyone can make comments...