2011-2012 Lecture Series

2011-2012 Forum Directors

Director: Janet Gyatso, Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies (janet_gyatso@harvard.edu)

Associate Directors: Charles Carstens and Ian MacCormack, Ph.D. students (carstens@fas.harvard.edu, ijmaccor@fas.harvard.edu)

The Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum would like to acknowledge these sponsors whose generous support has made the following lectures possible:

September 26 - Almut-Barbara Renger

"Train Yourself to Let Go of Everything You Fear to Lose:" Cultural Transformations of Buddhism in the Contemporary West

Monday, September 26, 4:15 pm

CGIS South, Room S153

1730 Cambridge St. [see map]

Almut-Barbara Renger is Professor of Ancient Religion, Culture and their Reception History at the Institute for the Scientific Study of Religion at the Freie Universitaet Berlin. Professor Renger is currently a visiting scholar at the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Associate in the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.

Professor Renger's research interests include myths, legends, idols, and icons; in particular concerning theory of genres, narratology, theory of fairy tales and myths, sociology of religion, sociology of knowledge, history of science, reception of antiquity in literature, fine arts and film, and Buddhism in literature and film. Her current projects include "Charisma, Religious Deviance and Innovation;" "The relationship between Master and Disciple in Eastern and Western Theory, Literature, and Film;" "Silence and Tranquillity: Ascetism and Mysticism;" and "Religion and Literature."

October 3 - Felicity Aulino

Merit 2.0: Politics and the Spirit of Volunteering in Thailand

Monday, October 3, 4:15pm

CGIS South, Room S153

1730 Cambridge St. [see map]                                              

Felicity Aulino is a Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.

Ms. Aulino is a medical anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker with primary area specialization in Thailand. Her research focuses on care for the elderly and issues of end-of-life and palliative care. She is currently completing her dissertation, entitled "Senses and Sensibilities: The Practice of Care in Everyday Life in Northern Thailand."

October 17 - François Lachaud

Eighteenth Century Japanese Buddhism: Eccentrics, Connoisseurs, and Antiquaries


Monday, October 17, 4:15pm

Barker Center, Room 133

12 Quincy Street, Cambridge [see map]


Francois Lachaud is Professor of Japanese Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris. He is currently a Smithsonian History of Art Visiting Fellow in Washington, D.C.

Professor Lachaud's areas of research have included representations of the female body in Japanese Buddhism and the influence of the monastic model on conceptions of sexuality and gender in Japanese civilization; Zen Buddhism and conceptions of political legitimacy in medieval Japan and early modern Japan; and connections between Zen aesthetics, ceramics and tea ceremonies during the Edo period. His current projects include "Melancholy and the Modern Japanese Metropolis: Kobayashi Kiyochika and his Legacy (1875-1945)." He is also completing a book-length study of antiquarianism and the aesthetics of ruins in Edo Japan entitled "Intimations of Mortality: Ruins in Early Modern Japanese Culture."

November 7 - Anna Grimshaw

Devotional Practice and Mindfulness in Ethnographic Filmmaking

In her talk, Anna Grimshaw will explore the ways that her doctoral research with Tibetan Buddhist nuns has shaped her subsequent work as an anthropologist. Drawing on a number of examples, including her own current film project,  she will trace some of the connections between her early work on Buddhist practice and particular techniques of ethnographic filmmaking.

Monday, November 7, 4:15pm

CGIS South, Room S153    

1730 Cambridge St. [see map]


Anna Grimshaw is Associate Professor at the Institute of the Liberal Arts, Emory University.

Professor Grimshaw is a professor of social anthropology whose research focuses on ethnographic cinema and the use of visual techniques and technologies in anthropology. Professor Grimshaw undertook her doctoral research among communities of Buddhist nuns in Ladakh and published a book, Servants of the Buddha (1992), based on this fieldwork. Her major publications include The Ethnographer's Eye: Ways of Seeing in Modern Anthropology (2001), concerning the relationship between vision and knowledge in twentieth-century anthropology; and Observational Cinema: Anthropology, Film and the Exploration of Social Life (2009, coauthored with Amanda Ravetz), which addresses theoretical issues of ethnographic filmmaking and argues for observational methods of visual anthropology.

November 28 - Richard Salomon

The Lives of the Buddhas: A Gāndhārī Version of the *Bahubuddha-sūtra

Monday, November 28, 4:15pm             

Barker Center, Kresge Room (114)

12 Quincy St. [see map]

Richard Salomon is a Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington.

Professor Salomon's research interests include Sanskrit and Prakrit language and literature, epigraphy, ancient Indian history, and Gandhāran Studies. He is the director of the British Library/University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project and general editor of the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts series.

January 30 - Catherine Newell

Dhammakayayogavacara and the politics of meditation in Thailand

Monday, January 30 4:15pm             

Barker Center, Room 133

12 Quincy St. [see map]

Catherine Newell was awarded her Ph.D. by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 2008. She is currently Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in the Religious Studies Department of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is working on her first monograph.

February 13 - Jacob Dalton

Reformation and Contestation in The Newly Discovered Decrees of King Yeshe Ö

Monday, February 13, 4:15pm

CGIS South, Room S153

1730 Cambridge St. [see map]                                               


Jacob Dalton is Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in South and Southeast Asian Studies and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley.

Through much of the late ninth and tenth centuries, Tibetans experienced their own kind of “dark age,” a period of religious and political fragmentation.  Only toward the very end of the tenth century did monastic Buddhism and the rule of law start to return.  Traditional histories attribute the first stages of this reformation to the efforts of one ruler, King Yeshe Ö of western Tibet.  In this talk, Dalton will introduce some newly revealed edicts attributed to the late tenth-century king Yeshe Ö.  The documents were discovered among the Fifth Dalai Lama’s papers stored at Drepung Monastery in central Tibet.  Taken together, they paint a remarkably detailed picture of Yeshe Ö’s activities and Tibet’s religious and political rebirth at this crucial moment in history. 

Professor Dalton's research has focused on the history and rituals of the Nyingma school. He spent several years as a researcher with the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library and has published a variety of articles on the Dunhuang documents and on the early history of tantra in Tibet and China. He has recently published The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism (2011), a study of the spread of tantric Buddhism in Tibet from the 9th and 10th centuries onwards with attention to the symbolic and historical roles of violence within Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and also co-authored Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Stein Collection at the British Library.

March 19 - Elizabeth Lambourn

Bumping into Buddhists – Buddhism, Islam, and clues to transitions in Indian Ocean networks (7th – 10th centuries CE)


Monday, March 19, 4:15pm            

Barker Center, Room 133    

12 Quincy St. [see  map]

Elizabeth Lambourn is Reader in South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester.

Professor Lambourn specializes in the architecture and material culture of the Middle East, South Asia and the Indian Ocean in pre-modern and contemporary periods. Her forthcoming publications include West Asia in the Indian Ocean 500-1500 CE, a cross-disciplinary and inter-religious cultural history of early Persian and Middle Eastern diasporas in the Indian Ocean. Her ongoing research also reflects an interest in 18th and 19th century South Indian architecture and material culture. As a guest speaker for the Buddhist Studies Forum, Professor Lambourn plans to explore the 7th and 8th century transformations of trade networks and maritime routes in West Asia affected by the interaction between the growing Islamic empire and the pre-existing Soghdian and Buddhist networks, including attention to the role of faith and religious identity in these transformations.

April 2 - Oliver Freiberger

Picturing Dung-Eaters, Donors, and Dogs: Early Buddhist Strategies of Coping with the Brahmanical Challenge

Monday, April 2, 4:15pm       
Barker Center, Kresge Room (114)
12 Quincy St. [see map]

Oliver Freiberger is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Professor Freiberger is a scholar of Indology and history of religions whose research has focused on practices and discourses of asceticism and monasticism in early Indian Buddhism. His publications include two books on these subjects, The Order in the Doctrine: On the Religious Interpretation of the Saṅgha in Early Buddhism (2000) and The Asceticism Discourse in the History of Religions: A Comparative Study of Brahmanical and Early Christian Texts (2009). He has also written numerous articles and chapters on these topics, and edited or co-edited several volumes, all of which reflect an inter-religious and inter-disciplinary approach to the study of Indian Buddhism in its larger social, political, religious and historical contexts. His current projects focus on the comparative method in the study of religion and on religious identity in premodern India. 

April 9 - Parimal Patil

"Why Buddhists Argue"

Monday, April 9, 4:15 p.m.

Barker Center, Kresge Room (114)

12 Quincy St. [see map]

Parimal G. Patil is Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy at Harvard University.

Professor Patil's research focuses on in South Asian intellectual practices and their relevance to broader issues in the study of religion, philosophy, and area studies. He is particularly interested in Indian Buddhism, its intellectual history in Southern Asia, and Buddhist, Hindu, and Jaina debates in aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. His publications include Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India (2009), focusing on philosophy and intellectual history of late Indian Buddhism, and many articles on Buddhist narrative literature, epistemology, and philosophy of language. More recently, he has also become interested in classical South Asian literature and literary theory, and its relevance to historiography and religious ethics. Other research and teaching interests include contemporary method and theory in the study of religion; Euro-American philosophy of religion; Sanskrit language, literature, and poetics; Hindu Studies; and constructive work in the study of Hinduism, especially ethics and theology.