The intersection of Buddhist studies and art history has benefitted from scholarly work addressing issues of feminism, gender studies, and queer theory, interventions that have opened up a rich terrain of interdisciplinary discourse requiring further, sustained exploration. By both building on important work that has already been done and simultaneously acknowledging that the disciplines of Religious Studies and Art History have both derived from and participated in colonial, euro-patriarchal, and racializing intellectual projects, this open collective proposes to recenter discussions of gender, the body, and identity as primary vectors along which the study of Asian visual and material cultures might be studied. By taking further inspiration from recent scholarship that explores women, religion and art within regional Asian studies, we aim to broaden the geographic scope of these discussions to include Asia at large.
The first conference, which focuses on Buddhism, will provide a platform to explore new methodological approaches, directions in pedagogy, and recent discoveries in the study of Asian art history, material culture studies, and related fields. Our aim is to sustain these discussions through regular conferences, and to complicate and redress entrenched biases and shortcomings in the historiographies of Asian religion, society, and art.
This collective seeks to answer questions like: What can centering visual materials tell us about conceptions of the body and representations of gender across Asia, broadly defined? What does the archive of art and visual material offer that complicates discussions of gender, representation, and the body as preserved in the textual record? How has contemporary research contended with these issues and in what directions might the field of Asian art history be developed so as to emphasize discussions of the body, gender, and their visual representations? Moreover, in looking forward, what approaches might be adopted by scholars and practitioners in their own methodological and pedagogical practices to foreground discussions of gender and representation in the study of Asian visual culture?