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Birgit Kellner publishes edited volume on Buddhism and Transculturality

Nov 21, 2019

Birgit Kellner, former professor of Buddhist Studies at the HCTS, has published an edited volume on Buddhism and Transcultural Studies, which is titled “Buddhism and the Dynamics of Transculturality. New Approaches.” The volume includes an introduction by Prof. Kellner and contributions by present as well as former members of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context.”

A collection of essays on “Buddhism and the Dynamics of Transculturality. New Approaches” was recently edited by Birgit Kellner, former professor of Buddhist Studies at the HCTS and HCTS associate member. The volume applies a transcultural methodology to the study of Buddhism across time and space. For over 2500 years, Buddhism was implicated in processes of cultural interaction that in turn shaped Buddhist doctrines, practices and institutions. While the cultural plurality of Buddhism has often been remarked upon, the transcultural processes that constitute this plurality, and their long-term effects, have scarcely been studied as a topic in their own right. Forwarded by Kellner´s introduction, the contributions to this volume present detailed case studies ranging across different time periods, regions and disciplines, and they address methodological challenges as well as theoretical problems. The essays contributed by the present and former members of the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” cast a spotlight on diverse topics, which mirrors the width of the research pursued at the Cluster and at the HCTS.

Three contributions fall into the realm of Tibetan studies: HCTS associate member Dr. Davide Torri, wrote the piece “From Geographical Periphery to Conceptual Centre: The Travels of Ngagchang Shakya Zangpo and the Discovery of Hyolmo Identity;” Dr. Markus Viehbeck, former associate professor of Buddhist Studies, addressed the topic of Indo-Tibetan relations in Tibetan literature in his essay “Indo-Tibetan Relations in Tibetan Polemical Discourse: Reconsidering Cultural Dynamics between Tradition and Innovation;” and Dr. Jonathan Samuels, the former lecturer of Tibetan language, wrote on “Revisiting the Emic Perspective: Lessons to Be Learnt from the Worldly–Other-Worldly Distinction in Tibet and Beyond.” Moving further East, Dr. Anna Andreeva, research fellow at the HCTS, spotlighted on cultic sites in pre-modern Japan with the essay “To Overcome the Tyranny of Time”: Stars, Buddhas, and the Arts of Perfect Memory at Mt. Asama.” Finally, the essay “Stone Hymn – The Buddhist Colophon of 579 Engraved on Mount Tie, Shandong” is an epigraphic study of a rock-cut Chinese colophon by Lothar Ledderose, professor of East Asian Art History at the Institute of Chinese studies.

These and the other papers jointly raise the question as to whether there might be something distinct about how Buddhism steers and influences forms of cultural exchange, and is in turn shaped by modalities of cultural interaction throughout Asian, as well as global, history. Altogether, the volume is intended to demonstrate the need for investigating transcultural dynamics more closely in the study of Buddhism, and to suggest new avenues for Buddhist Studies.

The volume is in an open access format and can be found here.


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