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In the contemporary world the meeting of Buddhism and Islam is most often imagined as one of violent confrontation. Indeed, the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 seemed not only to reenact the infamous Muslim destruction of Nalanda monastery in the thirteenth century but also to reaffirm the stereotypes of Buddhism as a peaceful, rational philosophy and Islam as an inherently violent and irrational religion. But if Buddhist-Muslim history was simply repeated instances of Muslim militants attacking representations of the Buddha, how had the Bamiyan Buddha statues survived thirteen hundred years of Muslim rule?
Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road demonstrates that the history of Buddhist-Muslim interaction is much richer and more complex than many assume. This groundbreaking book covers Inner Asia from the eighth century through the Mongol empire and to the end of the Qing dynasty in the late nineteenth century. By exploring the meetings between Buddhists and Muslims along the Silk Road from Iran to China over more than a millennium, Johan Elverskog reveals that this long encounter was actually one of profound cross-cultural exchange in which two religious traditions were not only enriched but transformed in many ways.
Scholars have long remarked on the frequency with which Japanese myths portrayed gods (kami) as old men or okina . Many of these "sacred elders" came to be featured in premodern theater, most prominently in Noh. In the closing decades of the twentieth-century, as the number of Japan's senior citizens climbed steadily, the sacred elder of premodern myth became a subject of renewed interest and was seen by some as evidence that the elderly in Japan had once been accorded a level of respect unknown in recent times. In Bodies in Time, Edward R. Drott charts the shifting sets of meanings ascribed to old age in medieval Japan, tracing the processes by which the aged body was transformed into a symbol of otherworldly power and the cultural, political, and religious circumstances that inspired its reimagination.
Drott examines how the aged body was used to conceptualize forms of difference and to convey religious meanings in a variety of texts: official chronicles, literary works, Buddhist legends and didactic tales. In early Japan, old age was most commonly seen as a mark of negative distinction, one that represented the ugliness, barrenness, and pollution against which the imperial court sought to define itself. From the late-Heian period, however, certain Buddhist authors seized upon the aged body as a symbolic medium though which to challenge traditional dichotomies between center and margin, high and low, and purity and defilement, crafting narratives that associated aged saints and avatars with the cults, lineages, sacred sites, or religious practices these authors sought to promote.
Contributing to a burgeoning literature on religion and the body, Bodies in Time applies approaches developed in gender studies to "denaturalize" old age as a matter of representation, identity, and performance. By tracking the ideological uses of old age in premodern Japan, this work breaks new ground, revealing the role of religion in the construction of generational categories and the ways in which religious ideas and practices can serve not only to naturalize, but also challenge "common sense" about the body.
Religion and the State, 1660-1990
Buddhism in Taiwan is the first work in a Western language to examine the institutional and political history of Chinese Buddhism in Taiwan. Tracing Buddhism's development on the island from Qing times through the late 1980s, it seeks to shed light on the ways in which changing social circumstances have impacted Buddhist thought and practice. It looks in particular at a number of significant changes that modernization has brought: the decline in clerical ordinations, the increasing prominence of nuns within the monastic order, the enhanced role of the laity, alterations in the content of lay precepts, the abandonment of funerals as a major source of income, the monastic order's loss of special recognition from the government, and the founding of large, international organizations. Charles Jones begins his survey with the earliest mention of Buddhism in Taiwan in historical records from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and continues through the formation of pan-Taiwan Buddhist organizations during the Japanese occupation (1895-1945). A review of the role of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC) follows, and the volume concludes with the rise of large independent Buddhist movements that fully emerged after the end of martial law and the removal of restrictions of civic organizations in the late 1980s. Jones provides a careful and balanced review of primary and secondary sources and translations of government and Buddhist documents, extensive bibliographies of major figures, detailed histories of prominent temples, and an exhaustive summary of recent Taiwanese scholarship. Buddhism in Taiwan promises to be a classic in the field of modern Chinese Buddhism. Scholars of the religion, history, political science, sociology, and anthropology of Taiwan will find its systematic and thorough approach stimulating as well as highly informative.
The study of historical Buddhism in premodern and early modern Southeast Asia stands at an exciting and transformative juncture. Interdisciplinary scholarship is marked by a commitment to the careful examination of local and vernacular expressions of Buddhist culture as well as to reconsiderations of long-standing questions concerning the diffusion of and relationships among varied texts, forms of representation, and religious identities, ideas, and practices. The twelve essays in this collection, written by leading scholars in Buddhist Studies and Southeast Asian history, epigraphy, and archaeology, comprise the latest research in the field to deal with the dynamics of mainland and (pen)insular Buddhism between the sixth and nineteenth centuries C.E. Drawing on new manuscript sources, inscriptions, and archaeological data, they investigate the intellectual, ritual, institutional, sociopolitical, aesthetic, and literary diversity of local Buddhisms, and explore their connected histories and contributions to the production of intraregional and transregional Buddhist geographies.
Religion, Activism, and Protest in Japanese Occupied Korea
Why and how did Korean religious groups respond to growing rural poverty, social dislocation, and the corrosion of culture caused by forces of modernization under strict Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945)? Questions about religion’s relationship and response to capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, and secularization lie at the heart of understanding the intersection between colonialism, religion, and modernity in Korea. Yet, getting answers to these questions has been a challenge because of narrow historical investigations that fail to study religious processes in relation to political, economic, social, and cultural developments. In Building a Heaven on Earth, Albert L. Park studies the progressive drives by religious groups to contest standard conceptions of modernity and forge a heavenly kingdom on the Korean peninsula to relieve people from fierce ruptures in their everyday lives. The results of his study will reconfigure the debates on colonial modernity, the origins of faith-based social activism in Korea, and the role of religion in a modern world.
This is the first study in a half century of one of the least known societies in the contemporary world. Burma at the Turn of the 21st Century provides insight into the everyday lives, concerns, and values of the people of this reclusive nation. Prominent anthropologists and religion scholars with in-depth, long-term knowledge of central Burma offer detailed analyses of the ways in which Burmese actively manage and create lives for themselves in the shadow of a military dictatorship. Their research crosses the domains of religious, political, and social life, examining public festivals and performance, local-state relations, literary life, lottery frenzies, mass meditators, political rumors and black humor, the value of children, changing male identities, and more in this impressive, wide-ranging collection.
Economic Development and Social Change on an Asian Rice Frontier, 1852–1941
In the decades following its annexation to the Indian Empire in 1852, Lower Burma (the Irrawaddy-Sittang delta region) was transformed from an underdeveloped and sparsely populated backwater of the Konbaung Empire into the world’s largest exporter of rice. This seminal and far-reaching work focuses on two major aspects of that transformation: the growth of the agrarian sector of the rice industry of Lower Burma and the history of the plural society that evolved largely in response to rapid economic expansion.