AAR Panels on Chinese Religion

Philip Clart has taken the time to list all panels at the upcoming American Academy of Religion conference in Boston (November 18-21) with significant Chinese Religions content (at least 50%). The entries are extracted from the online program book, where you can find abstracts for individual papers (https://papers.aarweb.org/program_book).

I thought that many readers of Warp, Weft, and Way might also be interested in this information, so pass it on here.

Chinese Religions panels at AAR 2017



Daoist Studies Unit

Theme: A Review of Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities (Harvard University Press, 2016)

Joshua Capitanio, Stanford University, Presiding

Saturday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Sheraton Boston-Fairfax B (Third Level)

This panel brings together six eminent scholars in Daoist Studies to critique and reflect on Terry Kleeman’s recent book, Celestial Masters: History and Ritual in Early Daoist Communities (Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, 2016). During this roundtable discussion, panelists will discuss such questions as how Kleeman’s book fits standard views of Daoist history, the future directions for Daoist Studies it suggests, and how the work might be used in teaching. There will be time at the end of the session for questions and comments from the audience.


Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Arizona State University

Franciscus Verellen, Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient

Mark Csikszentmihalyi, University of California, Berkeley

James Robson, Harvard University

Gil Raz, Dartmouth College


Terry Kleeman, University of Colorado


Business Meeting:

David Mozina, Boston College

Unregistered Participant





Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit

Theme: The Art of Commentary

Maria Heim, Amherst College, Presiding

Saturday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Hynes Convention Center-209 (Second Level)

Commentary was one of the main forms of literary expression in premodern India and China, but in modern scholarship the genre remains relatively understudied and underappreciated. This session explores commentarial practices across several periods and traditions (Confucian, Buddhist, and Hindu), focusing not just on the content of the commentaries but on the strategies and techniques they employ. The first three papers focus on Chinese traditions, while the second three focus on India. The papers will be followed by a discussion inviting comparison of the commentarial traditions explored.

John Makeham, La Trobe University

Strategies Adopted in Commentaries on the Analects


Mark L. Blum, University of California, Berkeley

What’s in a Name? Making Sense of Buddhist Commentary Rubrics in East Asia


Alexander Hsu, University of Chicago

Anthology as Commentary: Management and Manipulation of Paper Dharma through Medieval Chinese Buddhist Leishu


Richard Nance, Indiana University

Burdened Donkeys, Unfinished Paintings, and Thieves in the Night: Vasubandhu on the Challenges of Commentary


David Buchta, Brown University

God and Her Grammarian: Grammatical Justifications in Śantanu’s Commentary on the Durgāsaptaśatī


Michael Allen, University of Virginia

The Art of Sub-sub-commentary: Prakāśātman on the Nature of Ignorance


Business Meeting:

Dan Lusthaus, Harvard University





Anthropology of Religion Unit and Comparative Studies in Religion Unit

Theme: Authors Meet Critics: David A. Palmer and Elijah Siegler, Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality (University of Chicago Press, 2017)

Anna Sun, Kenyon College, Presiding

Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Sheraton Boston-Gardner (Third Level)

Dream Trippers asks how does the Americanized “Tao” of health, energy, sex and alchemical spirituality relate to the ancient Daoist monastic tradition as it is practiced today in China? Through twelve years of ethnographic research, Palmer and Siegler follow American spiritual tourists, practitioners, and scholars as they journey to Huashan, the birthplace of Daoism and one of China’s most sacred peaks. Dream Trippers captures the encounters between these Americans and the Chinese monks, masters, and hermits who host them and attempt to teach them the “true Dao.” In this panel, an exceptional group of scholars respond to Dream Trippers, situating the book’s contributions with respect to their own expertise in cultural anthropology, transnational religious circulation, comparative religions, globalization, religious pluralism, and the operations, ambiguities, and anxieties of global religions and modern spiritualities.


Lucas Carmichael, University of Chicago

Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University

Amanda Lucia, University of California, Riverside

Unregistered Participant

Thomas A. Tweed, University of Notre Dame


David A. Palmer, University of Hong Kong

Elijah Siegler, College of Charleston





Buddhism Unit and Chinese Religions Unit

Theme: Reshaping Family Life in Modern Chinese Buddhism

Alison Jones, Harvard University, Presiding

Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Exeter (Third Level)

One of the most important narratives about twentieth-century Chinese Buddhism traces how people drew from the Buddhist repertoire to grapple with modernizing forces. In this process Buddhist thinkers also reimagined religion’s role in society, conceiving of a “Buddhism for the human realm” (renjian Fojiao 人間佛教). This meant integrating cultivation into daily life, and many key figures addressed themselves in some form to what this meant for the family. However, the family as a unit of analysis has been comparatively understudied in the history of modern Chinese Buddhism, even as the family has transformed as dramatically as any other social institution. This panel seeks to redress this gap through four papers that span roughly one hundred years of Chinese Buddhism. The papers show lay Buddhists sought to shape modern family life through scriptural anthologies, practical advice, parenting guides, and life rituals.

Jessica Zu, Princeton University

Buddhisizing the Secular: Reframing the Family Ideals on Yogācāra Terms in Republican China


Paul Katz, Academia Sinica

Chen Hailiang’s Vision of Buddhist Family Life: A Pilot Study


Natasha Heller, University of Virginia

Buddhist Parenting for Modern Families: A Case Study


Neky Tak-Ching Cheung, University of Macau

Ritual and the Reformulation of Family Values: A Case Study of Lay Buddhist Menopausal Rituals in China



Robert Weller, Boston University





International Development and Religion Unit and Space, Place, and Religion Unit

Theme: Asian Religious Sites and Secular Space in Dynamic Tension

Brian J. Nichols, Mount Royal University, Presiding

Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Sheraton Boston-Liberty B (Second Level)

Religious sites play different roles, assume different identities, and take new forms; these papers analyze the dynamic tension surrounding four distinct sites centered in China, Pakistan, and Thailand. All the papers in this session examine the shifting identities of the space and place of religious sites in the evolving context of economic, political and socio-cultural developments. What is the source of sacred power in Chinese folk temples? Lee analyses a tension between history and social relations which generates new understandings. How does an upstart Christian group establish a presence in Shanghai? Hu explores an evangelical group’s efforts to bless the secular city of Shanghai. What is the Pakistani vision of the Buddhist site of Taxila? Ramswick examines the role of South Korean Buddhist delegations in reinventing this important site in conversation with Pakistani understandings and uses of the UNESCO site. What happens when a tourist in a bikini snaps a selfie with a golden Buddha? Schedneck considers the risks and benefits of tourism in Thai Buddhism.

Jonathan H. X. Lee, San Francisco State University

A Tale of Three Temples, Three Cities, and Three Goddesses? Historicity and Sacred Space in the Cult of Tianhou/Mazu at Meizhou, Beigang, and San Francisco


Steven Hu, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Transforming the City by God’s Grace”: Christian Publicity, Sense of Place, and Place-Making in Shanghai, China


Unregistered Participant

Reinventions and Revaluations of Pakistan’s Buddhist Ruins: The Case of Recent South Korean Delegations to Taxila and Takht-i-Bahi


Brooke Schedneck, Rhodes College

Loss and Promise: The Buddhist Temple as Tourist Space in Thailand



Courtney Bruntz, Doane University





Chinese Christianities Seminar

Theme: Chinese Christianities and Religious Boundaries

Christie Chui-Shan Chow, City Seminary of New York, Presiding

Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Sheraton Boston-Beacon E (Third Level)

This seminar provides a collaborative forum for scholars of different disciplines to engage in an academic discourse about the field of Chinese Christianities. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in mainland China today, and arguably the religion of choice for a growing number of diasporic Chinese. “Chinese” is an expansive term, including mainland China proper as well as a large, linguistically, and culturally diverse diaspora, and encompassing more than a fifth of the world’s population; the Han Chinese people are sometimes described as the world’s largest ethnic group. Hence, with the increasing critical mass of Chinese Christians, there has likewise been a growing academic interest in various instantiations of Chinese Christianities, as understood across geographies (e.g., mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, North America, etc.) and groupings (e.g., house and state-sanctioned churches, Catholic, Pentecostal, etc.).Chinese Christianities both transcend and hinder a number of regional, social, religious, etc. boundaries. Over the course of these five years, this seminar will offer a unique opportunity for scholars to engage and to debate the implications of the multiplicity of Chinese Christianities with regards to the boundaries they engage. Developing the overarching theme of “Chinese Christianities” and building on the success of our first two years, this third year of the seminar will focus on various religious boundaries.

Jin Lu, Purdue University Northwest

From Pagan Virtues to the Salvation of Non-Christians: Father Wang Changzhi’s Contribution to Chinese Christianity


Tsz Him Lai, Episcopal Divinity School

A Non-violent Model of Liberation Theology in Hong Kong: A Dialogue with Maoism


Justin Tse, Northwestern University

The Politics of Exclusivity: The Secular Political Implications of Cantonese Evangelical Rejections of Buddhist Cooperation in Vancouver, BC


Alexander Chow, University of Edinburgh

Christianity as a Chinese Religion: A Theological Reflection



Stephanie Wong, Georgetown University

Business Meeting:

Alexander Chow, University of Edinburgh





Chinese Religions Unit

Theme: Chinese Religions and Print Culture

Saturday – 4:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hynes Convention Center-205 (Second Level)

This panel focuses on the interplay between printing and religious practice within the broader context of Chinese cultural history. The first paper examines the socio-political and intellectual ramifications of printing during the Tang-Song transition, highlighting the role of printing in reshaping interpersonal communication and philosophical argumentation. The second paper explores the Tangut Hexi canon produced by Chinese lay printers in Hangzhou during the Yuan dynasty, arguing that this canon reflects the dynamics between the Mongol state patrons, Tangut diaspora, and local Chinese artisans. The third paper examines the relationship between lay religious practice and commercial print culture in late-Ming China by focusing on a group of illustrated hagiographic novels. The fourth paper reflects on the prefaces attached to the prosimetric religious text Pan Gong baojuan in late-Qing and modern reprints, arguing that Pan Gong remained important because it figured into an identity that donors sought to assert for themselves.

Noga Ganany, Columbia University

Origin Narratives: Writing and Worship in Late Ming Print Culture


Katherine Alexander, University of Colorado

Late Qing Performances of Philanthropic Identity in Reprints of Pan Gong Baojuan


Yair Lior, Boston University

The Tang-Song Transition in Light of Communication Technologies


Kaiqi Hua, University of British Columbia

The Tangut Buddhist Canon in the Yuan Dynasty: Printing Alien Scriptures under Alien Rule



Jiang Wu, University of Arizona

Business Meeting:

Megan Bryson, University of Tennessee

Anna Sun, Kenyon College





Economics and Capitalism in the Study of Buddhism Seminar

Theme: Buddhist Practice During Collapse: Economic, Cultural, Institutional, and Political

Richard K. Payne, Graduate Theological Union, Presiding

Sunday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Sheraton Boston-Fairfax B (Third Level)

Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai posits that we live in interrelating frameworks of “global cultural flows,” a term used to indicate the fluidity, the dependence, and the ever shifting “landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live” (“Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Theory Culture Society 1990). Global interactions stimulated by economic networks alter relationships across nations and groups, as communities are intertwining in fluid landscapes. Individuals too are dynamic entities who not only cross boundaries, but dwell in spaces that continuously transition. It is with this dynamism, boundary crossing, and shifting landscapes in mind that papers included in this panel will discuss Buddhist practice amidst economic, cultural, institutional (religious), and/or political collapses.

Courtney Bruntz, Doane University

Buddhism for a Tech-Savvy Chinese Youth


Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, University of Copenhagen

The Centrality of “Youth” in Promoting and Reforming Buddhist Monasteries in Ladakh


Brooke Schedneck, Rhodes College

Theravada Buddhist Economic Realities: Decline Narratives and Coffee Shops in Northern Thailand


Kevin Buckelew, Columbia University

Buddhist Rhetorics of Productivity and Debt at the End of Medieval China: “Inner-Worldly Asceticism” and the Chan Tradition


Business Meeting:

Fabio Rambelli, University of California, Santa Barbara

Richard K. Payne, Graduate Theological Union






Holmes Welch and the Study of Buddhism in Twentieth-Century China Seminar

Theme: Revisiting the Revival: Holmes Welch’s Work at 50

Rongdao Lai, University of Southern California, Presiding

Sunday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Marriott Copley Place-Regis (Third Level)

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Holmes Welch’s seminal work The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, which was followed in 1968 by The Buddhist Revival in China. These works remain foundational in the field of Buddhist studies. For the past three years this seminar has provided a forum for scholars of Chinese Buddhism to reflect on the continuing influence of Welch’s ideas in our field. This year, we are marking the anniversary of Practice by expanding this conversation to include scholars of Buddhist studies who do not specialize primarily in Chinese Buddhism. The session will begin with a roundtable discussion by junior and senior scholars specializing in the Buddhisms of Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. They will reflect on the impact of Welch’s writings in their own scholarly lives, and in their sub-fields within Buddhist studies. Audience members will also be invited to share their reflections.


Erik Braun, University of Virginia

Robert E. Buswell, University of California, Los Angeles

Holly Gayley, University of Colorado

Jessica Main, University of British Columbia

Nathaniel Welch, Welch Consulting, Los Angeles, CA

Business Meeting:

Erik Hammerstrom, Pacific Lutheran University

Gregory Adam Scott, University of Manchester





Buddhism Unit

Theme: Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2017): Reflecting on Zhiyi’s Masterwork and Paul Swanson’s English Translation

Eric Swanson, Harvard University, Presiding

Sunday – 1:00 PM-2:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Suffolk (Third Level)

The Mohe zhiguan (literally, “Great Calming and Insight”), a grand compendium of Buddhist teachings and practice by the Chinese Tiantai master Zhiyi (538-597), profoundly shaped the course of East Asian Buddhism. A foundational text for the Tiantai/Tendai and Nichiren traditions, its influence can also be seen in Chan/Zen, Huayan, and esoteric thought. It informed both meditation methods and ritual programs that crossed denominational boundaries, and provided a framework for monastic education. However, its vast size and complexity have long hindered appreciation of its content. Paul Swanson’s lucid and superbly annotated translation, Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight (2017), has now made the whole of Zhiyi’s masterwork available for the first time in a Western language. This roundtable brings together specialists in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism who will address key aspects of the Mohe zhiguan’s historical, intellectual, and cultural significance as well as new avenues that Swanson’s achievement has opened for Buddhist Studies.


Jinhua Chen, University of British Columbia

Daniel B. Stevenson, University of Kansas

Paul Groner, University of Virginia

Jacqueline I. Stone, Princeton University

Brook Ziporyn, University of Chicago


Paul L. Swanson, Nanzan University






Daoist Studies Unit

Theme: New Directions in Daoist Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Lived Religion

Unregistered Participant, Presiding

Sunday – 1:00 PM-2:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Dartmouth (Third Level)

This panel aims to bring Daoist Studies into conversation with other theoretically informed and cutting-edge subfields in the study of religion. The latter include Animal Studies and Contemplative Studies, Sustainability and Ecological Studies, Ontological Anthropology, and Secularism Studies. The panel will consist of the authors of three major new publications in Daoist Studies discussing their respective research. In the context of a round-table conversation, the panelists will offer brief, informal presentations with particular attention to animals, conservation, ecology, ethnography, globalization, meditation, secularism, spirituality, sustainability, and so forth. The overarching concern involves engaging Daoism as a lived religion and informed by interdisciplinary approaches to the academic study of religion. These brief presentations will be followed by critical reflections from a prominent senior scholar of Daoism.

Louis Komjathy, University of San Diego

Towards a Contemplative and Animalistic Daoist Studies


James Miller, Queen’s University, Kingston

Daoist Studies, Sinology, and Sustainability


David A. Palmer, University of Hong Kong

Daoist Studies and the “Ontological Turn” in Anthropology


Elijah Siegler, College of Charleston

Secularism, Spirituality, and Daoist Studies



Norman J. Girardot, Lehigh University





Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit and Secularism and Secularity Unit

Theme: Asian American Secularities: Race, Religion, and the Secular in Chinese North American Communities

Rachel A. R. Bundang, Schools of the Sacred Heart, San Francisco, Presiding

Sunday – 3:00 PM-4:30 PM

Sheraton Boston-Beacon E (Third Level)

This session explores dynamics of religion and secularity among Chinese American communities, in particular. Using a variety of methods, from ethnographic analysis to historical studies, these papers examine the co-implication of the religious/secular binary in Asian America. They offer innovative lenses for considering the operations of secularity more broadly among minority communities in North America.

Russell Jeung, San Francisco State University

Explaining Diasporic Chinese Non-Religiousness: A Liyi Theoretical Approach


Rachel Pang, Davidson College

Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors in Li-Young Lee’s The Winged Seed


Justin Tse, Northwestern University

“This Is About the Property We Bought”: The Secular Dimensions of Cantonese Evangelical Social Conservatism in the San Francisco Bay Area



Jonathan Tan, Case Western Reserve University





Chinese Religions Unit

Theme: Mapping Religion in Contemporary China

Megan Bryson, University of Tennessee, Presiding

Sunday – 3:00 PM-4:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Grand A (Fourth Level)

Since 1979, the year when China launched economic reforms, the country has witnessed tremendous economic growth and societal transition. Alongside these changes is the fluctuated state control over religion and religious revivals that have been widely noted by academics and media. However, many questions regarding the development of religion in China remain unanswered: Are all religions equally benefiting from the relaxed state control and experiencing similar rates of growth? Are different religions geographically mixed together, making China a religious “salad bowl,” or spatially segregated? For each religion, are religious sites evenly spreading across the country, or clustering together at certain places? The panel is composed of three papers that use various kinds of mapping techniques to analyze the distribution of religious sites and values in contemporary China. Collectively, they help scholars rethink recent developments in Buddhist, Daoist, Islamic, Christian, and Confucian groups in contemporary China.

Fenggang Yang, Purdue University

Mapping Religious Sites in Twentieth Century China: A Comparison of Mapping Techniques


Joey Marshall, Purdue University

Mapping the Growth of Buddhism and Daoism under Repressive Conditions in Twentieth-Century China


Yunping Tong, Purdue University

Religious Geography and Son Preference: A Spatial Analysis of Religious Sites in China



Jiang Wu, University of Arizona





Confucian Traditions Unit

Theme: Roundtable Session on Ivanhoe’s Three Streams: Confucian Reflections on Learning and the Moral Heart-Mind in China, Korea, and Japan (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Tao Jiang, Rutgers University, Presiding

Sunday – 5:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hynes Convention Center-101 (Plaza Level)

This author-meets-critics roundtable focuses on the recent monograph of leading Confucian scholar Philip J. Ivanhoe, Three Streams: Confucian Reflections on Learning and the Moral Heart-Mind in China, Korea, and Japan (Oxford UP, 2016). Adeptly crossing linguistic and cultural boundaries (i.e., Korea, Japan, China), this work sheds new light on the extraordinary complexity and richness of the Confucian tradition. Four scholars in the fields of religious studies, philosophy, and East Asian studies will discuss the contributions of this path-breaking monograph and its impact on the fields of East Asian religions, Confucianism, ethics, as well as religious studies at large.


Unregistered Participant

Robert C. Neville, Boston University

Shirong Luo, Simmons College


Philip Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong





Religion and Sexuality Unit

Theme: Queer Gathering: Engaging the Intersections between Religion, Bodies, and Sexualities

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, Methodist Theological School, Ohio, Presiding

Sunday – 5:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hynes Convention Center-202 (Second Level)

The session brings together papers that engage the intersections between religion, bodies and sexualities. Approaching these intersecting themes through autobiographies, historical archives and empirical research, the papers pay particular attention to the various ways in which sexuality is disciplined, colonized, queered and embodied/performed in subversive ways. Papers provide insights into different socio-religious contexts, both historical and contemporary, and uses among other perspectives postcolonial theory, hermeneutics, African queer studies, and lived religion as central analytical lenses.

Adriaan van Klinken, University of Leeds

Unregistered Participant

Ancestors, Embodiment, and Sexual Desire: Wild Religion and the Body in the Story of a South African Lesbian Sangoma


Lai-Shan Yip, Graduate Theological Union

A Queer China in the Eyes of Matteo Ricci and Its Relation to the Christian-Confucian Synthesis


Gilbert Chen, Washington University, St. Louis

Ordinary Monks, Nuns, and Everyday Sexuality in Early Modern China


Stephanie Budwey, Kirchliche Hochschule, Wuppertal

“Nature Loves Variety, Unfortunately, Society Hates It”: German Intersex Christians’ Experiences





Yogācāra Studies Unit

Theme: Reading Vasubandhu’s Triṃśikā and Its Commentaries

Roy Tzohar, Tel-Aviv University, Presiding

Sunday – 5:00 PM-6:30 PM

Sheraton Boston-Commonwealth (Third Level)

This round-table session continues the tradition of a close reading of a particular text from the Yogācāra corpus. This session will focus on Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses (Triṃśikā) and its rich commentarial tradition in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan, as well as its impact on the broader Indian philosophical context.

The Triṃśikā merits close reading because it synthesizes doctrines that are at the heart of the Yogācāra worldview: it unpacks the claim that everything is “mere representations” (vijñāptimātra) by bringing together two fundamental Yogācāra schemes for describing reality, namely the model of the “transformation of consciousness” (vijñaptipariṇāma) and the Three Natures doctrine (trisvabhāva).

Five panelists will offer fresh perspectives on the meaning of key verses and their place in the overall structure and purpose of the work, as well as their understanding by subsequent commentators. The organizers will have available copies of the texts in the Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan.

Jonathan Gold, Princeton University

Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses on Non-duality and Figurative Predication


Jay Garfield, Smith College

Trimśika 22 and Its Commentaries and Sequelae


Malcolm Keating, Yale-NUS College

Kumārila Bhaṭṭa on the Metaphor of Self


Dan Lusthaus, Harvard University

A Few Things We Can Learn About the Triṃśikā From the Chinese Sources


Jingjing Li, McGill University

Manifesting the Body through the Function: The Translation of Vijñāna and Vijñāpti in Chinese Yogācāra


Business Meeting:

C. John Powers, Deakin University

Roy Tzohar, Tel-Aviv University





Society for the Study of Chinese Religions

Theme: Roundtable

Sunday – 11:30 AM-1:00 PM

Hilton Boston Back Bay-Belvidere B (Second Level)


Daniel Murray, ABD McGill University

The Infrastructure of Spiritual Efficacy: Urban Development and Communal Temples in Modern Xiamen


Lin Hsinyi, Ph.D. Columbia University, 2017

Treating Childbirth with Dharmic Medicine: Buddhist healing resources for reproduction in Medieval China


Wang Xiaoxuan, Postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Religion, Maoism and its Legacies in China, 1949-2016


Noga Ganany, ABD Columbia University

Hagiographic Narratives: Reading and Reverence in Late-Ming China






International Society for Chinese Philosophy

Theme: New Perspective on Confucianism

Chenyang Li, Nanyang Technological University, Presiding

Sunday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Hyannis (Fourth Level)


Bruce Brooks, University of Massachusetts

The Personal and the Governmental in Mencius


Chenyang Li, Nanyang Technological University

Confucian Xiao as Filial Care


Jesse Ciccotti, Hong Kong Baptist University

A Ruler’s Religiosity: Comparing Marcus Aurelius and Mengzi on the Spiritual Side of Political Life


Bin Song, Boston University

Confucianism, Gapponshugi and the Spirit of Japanese Capitalism



Xiaojiao Cu, Beijing University

Wenzhi Zhang, Shandong University

Andrew Fuyarchuk, Yorkville University

Anna Sun, Kenyon College






Chinese Religions Unit and Confucian Traditions Unit

Theme: Religious Legacies of the Taiping War, 1850-1900

Megan Bryson, University of Tennessee, Presiding

Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Marriott Copley Place-Brandeis (Third Level)

The Taiping War (1850-1864) was likely the most destructive conflict in human history in terms of human causalities, and its impact on late-Qing Chinese society was immense. The immediate impact of the war on Chinese religions was destructive, with religious specialists killed or scattered, and religious institutions damaged or destroyed. Even religious institutions that were never directly on the front-lines of the fighting also suffered, as long-established networks of pilgrimage and patronage were disrupted. In the decades following the end of the war, large regions of China had to be rebuilt, and religious culture too had to be reconstructed. In this we examine how different Chinese religious groups, including Confucians, Buddhists, local religions, and Christians, dealt with the impact and legacies of the Taiping War, and how the war helped shaped the development of religion in China in the latter part of the Qing dynasty and into the twentieth century.

Hsueh-Yi Lin, University of Wisconsin

Breaking the Symbiosis: The Destruction of Shrines of Worthies and the Decline of Confucianism


Gregory Adam Scott, University of Manchester

Local Gazetteer Data on the Post-Taiping Reconstruction of Religious Institutions


Joshua Sooter, New York University

Translating Religion: Qing Officials, Local Religious Sects, and the Problem of Orthodoxy in Post-Taiping China


George Kam Wah Mak, Hong Kong Baptist University

An Assessment of the Taiping Legacy on the Protestant Bible Work in Late Qing China



Natasha Heller, University of California, Los Angeles

Business Meeting:

Pauline Lee, Saint Louis University

Aaron Stalnaker, Indiana University





Daoist Studies Unit and Ritual Studies Unit

Theme: From Another World: A Conversation between Daoism and Ritual Theory

David Mozina, Boston College, Presiding

Monday – 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Hynes Convention Center-205 (Second Level)

The Chinese traditions known under the umbrella term of Daoism remain a rich resource for the study of ritual. Over the last two millennia, various Daoist communities developed not only a great variety of ritual practices, but also a vast corpus of scriptures that contain elaborate illustrations and reflections upon ritualistic performances. In this panel, we share some of these materials by introducing Daoist vocabulary related to discourses of ritual and the body. In particular, we engage with terms such as bodily transformation (bianshen), affective power (ling), embodiments of the Way (tidao), true form (zhenxing), and sincerity (cheng) to introduce this valuable, but overlooked liturgical world to a ritual studies audience unacquainted with Daoist terminology. By pairing specific Daoist discourses on the function(s) of ritual with widely known theoretical models, we provide an avenue to this exciting world that furthers intellectual exchange between the fields of Daoism and ritual studies.

Tobias Zuern, Washington University, St. Louis

Ritual Embodiment of the Way and Resonating Correspondences in the Huainanzi


Joshua Capitanio, Stanford University

Sincerity and the Subjunctive in a Daoist Ritual Manual


Michael Naparstek, University of Wisconsin

Consummate Bodies: A Prolegomenon to a Daoist Ritual Theory of the Senses


Mark Meulenbeld, University of Wisconsin

Categories of Culture: Daoist Ritual and Modernity in Villages of Central Hunan





Buddhist Philosophy Unit

Theme: Literary Forms of Argument in Chinese Buddhist Philosophy

Unregistered Participant, Presiding

Monday – 4:00 PM-6:30 PM

Marriott Copley Place-Arlington (Third Level)

This panel aims to study the relationship between Buddhist literature and philosophy, particularly as instantiated in Chinese-language classical texts. In so doing, the panel gives voice to Chinese perspectives largely unrepresented in contemporary studies of Buddhist philosophy, and does so in a manner that takes the literariness of the texts under study to be (not a reason for their dismissal as serious philosophy, as sometimes maintained, but) a substantive and distinctive feature of their philosophical worth. More broadly, the panel hopes to complicate scholarly conceptions of ‘Buddhism’, ‘Buddhist Philosophy’, and ‘Buddhist Literature’ by demonstrating the religion’s approaches to and understandings of its own myriad textual manifestations to be highly complex and plural, and thereby to problematize traditional, disciplinarily inflected scholarship in religion by revealing the boundaries of philosophical and literary studies, as currently practiced in Western scholarship, to be overly normative and exclusionary.

Alan Wagner, Collège de France

Philosophical Narrative in the Sūtra on Sundarī 須陀利經


Rafal Stepien, University of Oxford

Enlightening Literature: A Chinese Buddhist Approach to Emptiness of Word and Mind


Ben Van Overmeire, St. Olaf College

Zen Encounter Dialogues as Utopian Narrative: The Ideal World of the Song Dynasty Record of Linji


Steven Heine, Florida International University

Arguments for and against Chan Buddhist Literature as Philosophy


Business Meeting:

Richard Nance, Indiana University

Unregistered Participant





Confucian Traditions Unit and Religions, Social Conflict and Peace Unit

Theme: A Gentleman Does Not Enter the Kitchen, but … : Confucian Attitudes Towards Violence

Mark Halperin, University of California, Davis, Presiding

Monday – 4:00 PM-6:30 PM

Hynes Convention Center-202 (Second Level)

One of the Mencius’ most famous stories is that of King Xuan who sees an ox being led to slaughter and orders that it be sparred. When asked whether the ritual in which it would have been sacrificed not be performed, the king replied that it must be performed, but with another animal. This anecdote epitomizes the ambivalent attitudes of Confucians towards violence. A gentleman does not enter the kitchen because he shuns the violence he knows transpires there; nevertheless, he condones certain forms of violence because they are unavoidable. Violence should be avoided because it generates disharmony and chaos, and creates immense suffering and disruption. Nevertheless, it has many important uses as well. The papers in this panel explore this apparent contradiction of a religious tradition that seemingly abhors shedding blood, but often sanctions it.

Don Wyatt, Middlebury College

Confucianism and the Militaristic Three of the Six Arts


Uffe Bergeton, University of North Carolina

King Wǔ in Revisionist Historiography: Non-violent Conceptualizations of War in Pre-Qín to Medieval Rú Thought


Keith Knapp, The Citadel

Filial Murderers: The Inescapability of Violence in Medieval Chinese Tales of Sonly Revenge


Ying Zhang, Ohio State University

Confucianism and Imprisoned Officials in Ming China (1368-1644)




Daoist Studies Unit
Theme: Where Sources Merge and Streams Depart: Ge Hong and the Navigation of Religious Identity

Unregistered Participant, Presiding

Tuesday – 10:30 AM-12:00 PM

Hynes Convention Center-313 (Third Level)

For the study of medieval Chinese religious thought few other figures offer a more rich and comprehensive insight than Ge Hong 葛洪 (283–343 CE) and his work, the Baopuzi 包朴子. Thus far, most scholarship has explored Ge’s participation in endeavours related to bodily transcendence and spiritual practice, with less interest paid to his substantial and diverse writings on other topics. The approach of this panel is not to deny the importance of Ge Hong’s writings on transcendence but rather to enrich our understanding of his religious identity by more thoroughly considering the other facets of his life and worldview. As an exercise, this requires shifting our focus towards other aspects of his world, temporarily putting his writings on transcendence into the blurred space of our peripheral vision. The result, we hope, will a fuller picture of Ge Hong’s sense of identity.

Matthew Wells, University of Kentucky

The Earth Immortal: The Political and Social Context of Ge Hong’s Religious Writing


Clayton Ashton, University of British Columbia

The Limits of Propriety: Ritual Practice in the Baopuzi


Wayne Kreger, Columbia College

The Great Beginning with Myriad Completions – Ge Hong’s Thought in Cultural Context



Robert Campany, Vanderbilt University



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