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OnderzoekCentre for East Asian Studies Groningen

Colloquium on Asian religions | The Search for the Balanced Heart: Social Inequality and Moral Purpose in the Revival of Chinese Buddhism

Wanneer:ma 20-04-2015 16:00 - 17:30
Waar:Oude Boteringestraat 38, Room 123

Speaker: Gareth Fisher(Syracuse University).

The Search for the Balanced Heart: Social Inequality and Moral Purpose in the Revival of Chinese Buddhism

Based on over a decade of ethnographic fieldwork, this talk will examine how certain Beijing residents, disadvantaged from the growing inequality that has accompanied economic restructuring in post-Mao urban China, have converted to Buddhism in an effort to redress what they see as an imbalance in social status in contemporary China.  Locating the roots of this imbalance in what they see as a moral decline among contemporary Chinese, these newly converted lay Buddhist practitioners create new identities for themselves as moral reformers devoted to spreading Buddhist moral teachings on equality and universal compassion through popular preaching and the reproduction of Buddhist-themed media.  The presentation will explore how these self-styled moral reformers contribute to the revival of religion in China today, and also consider the limitations of their actions.