The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Abhishek S. Amar
Abhishek S. Amar  |  Abstract
Focused on the site of Bodhgaya, the book investigates the relationships between the Buddhist monastic institutions and the surrounding settlements, polities, and other religions to study the expansion and transformation of Buddhism. Through newly documented archaeological remains in Bodhgaya and the Gaya district, it critiques three dominant ideas in the Buddhist historiography: 1) that Buddhism, being a monastic religion, was confined to monastic precincts and never developed a sustainable social base beyond urban centers; 2) Buddhist sangha was dependent exclusively on the royal and mercantile patronage for their sustenance; and 3) Buddhist sangha was a passive institution that failed to respond to challenges from Brahmana and other religious traditions, which led to its decline.

Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Hamilton College  -  Material Buddhism: Archaeology, Context, and Religious Change in Bodhgaya

Shawn Frederick McHale
Shawn Frederick McHale  |  Abstract
My research will be investigate one of the most important developments in modern Vietnamese Buddhism, the search for "Phat giao nguyen thuy" -- "original" or Theravada Buddhism. This "search for origins" took Vietnamese monks and laypersons to Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, and India, but Cambodia played a key role in this process from the 1930s onwards. This movement has contributed to modern Buddhist cross-fertilizations in Asia, but has not yet been seriously studied. While the project examines the intellectual and organizational history of this search, it will also contextualize it in the difficult relations between Khmer and Vietnamese between 1930 and 1989.

Associate Professor, History, The George Washington University  -  "Crossing the Mahayana-Theravada Frontier: Vietnamese-Khmer Relations and the Vietnamese Search for 'Original' Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia, 1930 to 1989"

Alastair Gornall
Alastair Gornall  |  Abstract
This book is a social history of Pali literature in late medieval Sri Lanka, focusing on over a century of literary production lasting from the middle of the 12th century to the end of the 13th. During this politically tumultuous period over forty new Pali texts were composed, accounting for almost a third of all major works of post-canonical Pali literature. This book provides the first detailed explanation of this textual production and explores the role of Pali literature in late medieval social life. The main thesis of the book is that scholar monks composed works in Pali, in particular, grammars, commentaries and poems, as a means of enframing their chaotic social landscape within an ordered, conceptual space in which they could think, act, and induce others to act as well.

Assistant Professor, Humanities, Singapore University of Technology and Design  -  Chaos, Order, and Emotion: Pali Textual Culture in Sri Lanka, 1153 to 1270

Andrew Quintman
Andrew Quintman  |  Abstract
Frontiers are often thought of as the margins of things. Buddhism on the Border reconsiders the Himalayan frontier as its own center, examining the development of a "borderland Buddhism" on the boundaries of Tibet and Nepal. It focuses on the hermitage known as White Rock Horse Tooth and interrogates the circumstances that allowed it to become a source of enduring influence on the traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. It demonstrates that a provincial region on the margins served as a site of significant religious preservation, innovation, and transmission. I argue that it did so not despite its location at the outer limits of Central Tibetan authority, but precisely due to its presence in a frontier zone. This study thus considers the impact of place on the formation of religious expression.

Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Yale University  -  Buddhism on the Border: The Formation of Religious Tradition on Tibet's Southern Frontier

Youn-mi Kim
Youn-mi Kim  |  Abstract
Through an exploration of rich archaeological finds from the pagodas of the Liao dynasty, this book project aims to re-envision East Asian Buddhist practice and visual culture of the 10th to 12th century. Because the Liao empire left so few historical documents, its significant role in shaping East Asian Buddhist practice has been largely overlooked. By analyzing archaeologically excavated inscriptions, printed scrolls, and artworks from Liao pagodas, this book project traces the hitherto unknown impact of Liao Buddhism on Shingon Buddhist ritual in late Heian Japan. These complex archeological data also reveal how Buddhist theories on the Buddha-body and Huayan cosmology were visualized and embodied through architectural monuments that served as Esoteric Buddhist ritual space in Liao.

Assistant Professor, History of Art, Ewha Womans University, South Korea  -  Body, Space and Ritual in Medieval East Asian Buddhism: Exploration of Archaeological Finds from the Liao Pagodas (907 to 1127)

Juliane Schober
Juliane Schober  |  Abstract
Buddhist practices and institutions in contemporary Myanmar are under duress in multiple contexts, ranging from widespread social reforms to the rise of extreme Buddhist nationalist discourse, violent communal conflict directed against Muslims and Rohingya communities, and the threat of returning to military rule. The combined impact of these developments underscores the urgent need for Buddhist communities to find new forms of authority in contemporary society. This project looks at emerging Buddhist sentiments and movements that respond to anxieties about who belongs to a new Myanmar. The result book will examine emerging forms of contemporary Buddhism against three different backdrops, Buddhist involvement in national politics, Buddhist-Muslim interactions and global discourse on Buddhist sensibilities and belonging.

Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious St, Arizona State University  -  Who belongs to the new Myanmar? Islamophobia and other Buddhist sentiments in the Digital Age

Sara McClintock
Sara McClintock  |  Abstract
This proposal is to complete work on a book project on the transactional nature of truth in the works of two eighth-century Indian Buddhist philosophers, Santaraksita and Kamalasila. The aim is to elucidate the epistemological theories of these historically important figures while also engaging their ideas in connection with contemporary philosophy and ethics. These thinkers propose that all forms of knowledge and even truth itself are produced through transactions conditioned by a range of factors. As such they are neither completely illusory nor ultimately real. This book uses their theories to argue for the necessity of recognizing the ethical dimensions of all epistemological practices, including scientific research that takes Buddhist meditation practices as its focus in modernity.

Associate Professor, Religion, Emory University  -  Transactional Reality, Transactional Truth