CFP: “The Art of Commentary” at AAR

From Michael Allen…

The “Indian and Chinese Religions Compared” group of the American Academy of Religion will be hosting a session at this year’s annual meeting in Boston, Nov. 18-21. The theme of the session will be “The Art of Commentary,” and we welcome individual paper proposals (deadline March 1). For more information, please see below.

Call for Papers:

We are seeking papers that explore and explain commentarial practices, i.e., the techniques and strategies used by commentators in the Indian and/or Chinese traditions. The focus can be a single commentary (or part thereof), or a genre, or even a comparative study of how different commentators in the same or different traditions handle material. Note that papers are not required to compare Indian and Chinese materials explicitly (though such papers are welcome); affinities, comparisons, and contrasts will emerge during discussion of the papers. 


American Academy of Religion, 2017 Annual Meeting, Boston, November 18-21.


Paper proposals are due by 5pm on Wednesday, March 1. Proposals should be submitted through AAR’s PAPERS system (


Contact either of the co-chairs:

Dan Lusthaus <>

Michael S. Allen <>

About the Unit:

The “Indian and Chinese Religions Compared” unit of the American Academy of Religion addresses two significant gaps in current scholarship on Chinese and Indian religious traditions. The first gap is in historical scholarship. India and China have been the two mother cultures of South Asia and East Asia. Historically, the two were connected through the transmission and transformation of Buddhism from India to China. This remarkably fruitful incorporation and assimilation of a foreign system of thought and cultural practice into another well-established civilization is one of the first of its kind in the human history of cross-cultural exchanges, especially at such a magnitude. Unfortunately, there has been inadequate scholarly attention paid to how Indian Buddhism — and its central Asian variants — introduced new issues and imaginations to the Chinese people and how the Chinese managed to appropriate the alien tradition into their own intellectual milieu, hence deeply enriching and reshaping the indigenous Chinese culture. Second, we also seek to redirect some of the attention of the comparative study of religion and philosophy away from the default Western-centered approach. India and China are profoundly important civilizations, both historically and contemporarily. Despite the historical connection of Buddhism, the differences in their cultural products — whether religious, linguistic, philosophical, artistic, or material — are so striking that comparing them would highlight the true richness, plurality, and diversity of human creativity and cultural productivity.

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