Buddhist East Asia:   The Interplay of Religion, the Arts and Politics

An NEH Summer Institute ~ May 28 to June 22, 2018 ~ Honolulu, Hawaii ~ Hosted by the Asian Studies Development Program

Buddhist East Asia:  The Interplay of Religion, The Arts and Politics
An NEH Summer Institute

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Week Four:  East Asian Buddhism and Modernity

The final week of the program will address the encounters of Buddhist East Asia with global modernity. Institute Director, Peter Hershock, will launch the week by charting how Buddhist institutions addressed the challenges posed by China’s encounters with global modernity, beginning with their responses to the mid-19th century trauma of the Taiping Rebellion and working forward through the founding of the PRC, the Cultural Revolution, market liberalization and China’s reemergence as an economic and political power on the global scene.


On Tuesday, James Mark Shields (Bucknell) will discuss the religious impacts of Japanese modernization, beginning with the brief, early Meiji era (1868-1912) persecution of Buddhism and the growing politicization of Shintō as a state religion, and then turn to the rise of Buddhist modernism in late 19th and early 20th century Japan, and the more recent struggles of Japanese Buddhists to square Buddhist ideals with historical realities and with modern values of equality and social justice. Next, Jin Park (American University) will address how Korean Buddhists responded to challenges of global modernity in the first half of the 20th century, including Korea’s colonization by imperial Japan, its division in the context of Cold War proxy warfare, and how Buddhist institutions struggled to remain relevant as Korea reaffirmed its national identity in the second half of the century, including how Korean Buddhists engaged issues of class and gender.

Flying Apsaras (Hiten), Heian period, Japan; 

Photo Credit:  www.metmuseum.org                     The program will conclude with a group discussion of key concepts and issues and the globalization of

                                                                             Buddhism, followed by participant project presentations on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.