Textuality in East Asian Buddhism

The field of Buddhist studies in the West began as a textual study, and the translation and interpretation of texts have remained a predominant approach in the field. This emphasis on written works has provoked debates over whether the textual bias has devalued the role that forms of visual culture and performative practices play in the scholarly interpretation of Buddhist traditions.

This research project aims at (1) reconstructing the interplay and hierarchy between texts, visual culture/media and performative practices, (2) with the result of provoking alternative ways to define and investigate texts, and (3) proposing new theoretical directions in the discipline of textual research in Buddhist studies. This research will thus create a conceptual frame for a new epistemology of textuality, as well as provoking new challenging debates on research methodologies in the field. This research project will explore the proposed theme within the context of East Asia.

The first publication output of this team will be the edited volume Textual vs. Extra-Textual: Dynamics of Religious Authority in East Asian Buddhism.

Some fellows of this research team will participate in the conference Making Sense of Religious Textsto be held in Amsterdam, 27-29 October 2015. This event is a joint project between the Centre, Prof. Mladen Popovic (Director of the Qumran Institute), and Dr. Sabrina Corbellini (Chair of the COST-Action ‘New Communities of Interpretation’, and sponsored by the KNAW Academy Colloquia Fund. The conference will provoke a debate on textuality that goes across religious traditions and academic disciplines. This debate on text will be organised around five important issues: modality, authority, practice, materiality and transmission. The conference will be followed by the Masterclass Textual Diversity in Context, also sponsored by the KNAW and scheduled on 30 October 2015.

For more information on activities and associate fellows of this project please check the Centre’s website.