Stephanie Lynn Balkwill
- Postdoctoral Fellow
- University of Southern California
Empresses, Nuns, and Women of Pure Faith: Buddhism and the Politics of Patronage During the Northern Wei
My dissertation is a study of the contributions that women made to the early development of Chinese Buddhism during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386—534 CE). Working with the premise that Buddhism was patronized as a secondary arm of government during the Northern Wei, I argue that women were uniquely situated to play central roles in the development, expansion, and policing of this particular form of state-sponsored Buddhism, significantly contributing to its spread throughout East Asia, and that in so doing they gained increased social mobility and enhanced social status. To make this argument, I use approximately 100 largely unstudied inscriptions as my source data, as inscriptional material well documents the activities of female politicians, donors, and lay patrons.
Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia: A Conference of Storytellers
The conference will bring together twenty-five world-class scholars from Canada, the US, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan in order to engage in an interdisciplinary and comparative study of Buddhist statecraft, which will include historians, anthropologists, textual scholars, and art historians. Through the medium of storytelling, the paper presenters will explore how Buddhism has been an important means of securing imperial legitimation and political power, as well as an effective partner in the running of a state, since its arrival in China in the third century of the Common Era and subsequent spread to the rest of East Asia. As such, the conference will also illuminate the role that Chinese culture has played in the development of East Asian political and religious systems in general.