Asian Studies Program Event Highlights 2012
The Asian Studies Program welcomed two visiting scholars to campus in 2012 for a pair of fascinating lecture events. In March, Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of History of Religions at the University of Chicago, gave a lecture entitled “The Magic Ring of Memory and Forgetfulness in South Asian and European Folklore.” Doniger, a world-class scholar of Hinduism and the author of more than thirty books, gave a talk on a trope common in a variety of folklore traditions in South Asia and Europe. In this trope, a woman is given a ring as a token of affection by a suitor/lover/stranger who happens to be a king who then promptly forgets her for one reason or another. Later, the woman, or perhaps her son, brings the ring out as proof of her tie to the man. Doniger’s dynamic talk showed the commonality of this trope in a variety of unrelated contexts.
In November, Gareth Fisher, Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, gave a talk entitled “(Dis)organized Chaos: Religious Pluralism at a Beijing Buddhist Temple.” Fisher, an anthropologist who specializes in Buddhism in contemporary China, discussed lay preachers at Guangji Si, an old and important temple in Beijing. Providing a spatial analysis of Guangji Si, Fisher showed how certain parts of the temple were used by different kinds of population for different uses and preaching. Most intriguingly, Fisher argued that the outer courtyard of the temple, while not controlled directly by the Buddhist association of China, was also understood by the government to be outside of its control. The upshot is that this courtyard has provided a space for chaotic yet organized Buddhist practice by unlicensed lay preachers.
Asian Studies also supported a visit to UVM by Chen Ting-ting, a Chinese graduate student from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Ms. Chen held classroom sessions with students in the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures and the History Department, and she also explored other parts of northern New England during what was her first visit ever to the United States.
Last modified February 25 2013 04:05 PM