Lunchtime seminar – 8 March – Dan Smyer-Yü

February 28th, 2019 by anna.c
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Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Friday 8 March 2019, 12.00–1.00

Dan Smyer-Yü

Centre for Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan-Minzu University

A Sino-Tibetan Buddhist Modernism:  Religious Marketplace, Constellative Networking and Urbanism

As an increasing number of Tibetan lamas reach out to non-Tibetan populations in contemporary China, Tibetan Buddhism is undergoing various transformations especially in urban settings. As its engagement with many aspects of the Chinese society, such as higher education, social morality, philanthropy, environmental conservation, and modern science, the pattern of its transregional and trans-ethnic expansion shows itself as an urban lay Buddhist movement. Based on the author’s ethnographic work, this chapter discusses how the politics, economics, and practices of Tibetan Buddhism are deeply entangled with each other in contemporary Chinese society. Situated in this sociopolitical context, this chapter, by treating Tibetan Buddhism as a world religion, argues that a Sino-Tibetan Buddhist modernism emerges in urban China as a Buddhist urbanism possessing both transcendental orientation and worldly function regarding the Buddhist sense of enlightenment and practical techniques for human worldly wellbeing under the fast changing, precarious conditions of livelihood making in contemporary China. The organizational manifestation of this Sino-Tibetan Buddhist modernism is what the author calls the “constellative networks,” which, sustained by material resources donated from affluent Buddhist individuals and businesses, diffuse the lineage-based Buddhist teachings from Tibetan regions to its receivers in different cities of China.

 

 

Seminar – 5 March – Robert Barnett

February 21st, 2019 by anna.c
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ALL WELCOME

Tuesday 5 March 2019

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Robert Barnett

Visiting Scholar, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Relocating the Masses: Exploring the Linkages Between Environmental Protection, Poverty Relief and Mass Re-Settlement in Tibet

China’s modernization policies in Tibet are constantly evolving and taking on new forms, and as they do so, the rhetoric of justification shifts too. I’m interested in exploring the language used to explain the latest phase in social transformation in Tibet, which now appears to have shifted focus from the much-discussed settlement of nomads to the mass relocation of farming communities. Information about these projects is almost entirely limited to reports in official Chinese media, so that in most cases language is all that outside observers have to go on; even locals may have limited information about the rationales behind these policies. In this presentation I hope to explore possible ways to decrypt that language and what it represents.

Lent Term – Seminar Programme – further amendment

February 12th, 2019 by anna.c
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Please see below for this term’s revised programme – please note there has been a further change to the final seminar of the term.  The speaker, Robert Barnett remains unchanged but the date has been moved back by one week to 5 March 2019.

Research Seminars are held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF from 4.30–6.00

LENT 2019

 

Seminar – 12 February – Joe Ellis

February 4th, 2019 by anna.c
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ALL WELCOME

Tuesday 12 February 2019

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Joe Ellis

MIASU, University of Cambridge

The Conflict in Exemplars: Mythic-Histories, ‘Ethnicities’ and Affines in Khovd Aimag, Mongolia

This paper seeks to explore Mongolian moral life by elucidating the historical exemplars that people interpret and mobilise in understandings of ‘ethnic’ difference. In drawing out the manner in which Mongolians conceptualise differences between the large number of ethnic groups (yastan) present in Khovd province, this paper will enter into dialogue with developments within the anthropological theorisation of ethnicity and identity. Anthropological work in Mongolia and elsewhere has rightly demonstrated how self-identifications and ascriptions of ethnic difference occur within fields of power between collectives and the state. In response, I drew attention to claims of difference made by my interlocutors, not through the assumption of essentialised ethnicities, but by the analysis of the moral claims produced by the varied manners in which people emplot themselves within history. In attending to moral, exemplary stories as forms of historicity, I move away from techniques of contextualisation whereby claims of ethnic difference are rendered as the outcome of known political-economic and historical contexts, and instead draw attention to the moral horizons of difference posited by my interlocutors. Explanations as to the problematic conduct of various kinds of people arise as a mythical-historical form of moral discourse that accounts for and partly produces what might be called ethnic difference in Mongolia. Yet far from being the simple deployment of moralised historical content for understanding and navigating conflict in the present, I suggested that the particular, exemplary logic of these historical resources produces diverging interpretations and conflict in their own terms. The exemplars I present are not univocal, and as such, not only allow people to deploy them in the service of competing aims, but demand such disagreement through their own, multivalent constitution.

Lent Term – Seminar Programme amendment

February 4th, 2019 by anna.c
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Please see below for this term’s revised programme – please note there has been a change to the final seminar of the term on 26 February, now to be given by Robbie Barnett.

Research Seminars are held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF from 4.30–6.00

LENT 2019