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Inaugural lecture by Prof. Michael Radich

Nov 06, 2018

Prof. Michael Radich, the professor of Buddhist Studies at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, gave his inaugural lecture on Wednesday, November 7 at the Alte Aula of Heidelberg University from 12 to 1 pm. The lecture was followed by a reception at the Bel Etage.

Prof. Michael Radich took up the Professorship of Buddhist Studies at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies in January 2018. Before becoming the new HCTS professor for Buddhist Studies, Radich held visiting positions at Kyoto University, the University of Hamburg, and at Victoria University of Wellington, in his home country of New Zealand. He conducted his PhD studies at Harvard University in 2007 with a dissertation on the history of Buddhist ideas about the various embodiments of Buddhahood.

In his inaugural lecture, Prof. Radich talked about "Buddhism Countercultural, Intercultural and Transcultural." In some senses, it is meaningful to treat Buddhism (or aspects and parts of Buddhism) as an instance or type of culture (or of multiple types of culture). At the same time, other features distinguish Buddhism from systems that we more readily think of as cultural. Sometimes it can even be understood as defining itself in opposition to certain basic parameters or dimensions of culture, or of specific cultures.

It might also be instructive to consider Buddhism as a system properly situated between cultures, or functioning to mediate or coordinate various relations and interactions between cultures. In other respects again, aspects of Buddhism, not least aspects emphasized by normative views with authoritative status within the conceptual and discursive structures of the tradition itself, can be understood as operating, either in principle or in fact, at a level intended to overarch or “rise above” culture altogether. Prof. Radich's lecture, was an attempt to consider Buddhism from these several points of view: Buddhism as cultural, countercultural, intercultural and transcultural.

After the lecture, a reception was held at the Bel Etage.


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