Seminar – 25 November – Will Tuladhar-Douglas

November 13th, 2014 by


Tuesday 25 November

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Will Tuladhar-Douglas

University of Aberdeen

Theory, Anthropology and Buddhist books


In the last half of the 20th century, thinking about literature as writing generated a series of influential approaches, including hermeneutics and deconstruction. This led to a series of ‘textual turns’ in anthropology, whereby cultures and events were analysed and compared using literary tools. Yet the prior debates in literary theory shared a profoundly Abrahamic—even a Reformation—model of textual meaning; hermeneutics as a discipline derives from Biblical study. We now have good ethnographic and textual evidence that Buddhist books do not mean in the same way as Biblical texts: they are simultaneously performed, recited, interpreted, explained, copied, worshiped and visualised, and no one of these is prior to the others. How radical a challenge does this pose to existing genealogies and methods of ethnography and reading? What would a project to recover an ‘authentically Buddhist’ methodology for handling books look like, and is it even possible in the post-print Google Books age?