Becoming Citizens: Student-Monks and the Rise of Social Engagement in Modern Chinese Buddhism

Buddhism in Canada Buddhist community Buddhist Studies China Education Social Action Vancouver

UBC’s Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program presents a lecture by the Venerable Rongdao Lai.

Becoming Citizens: Student-Monks and the Rise of Social Engagement in Modern Chinese Buddhism
Date: Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Place: Room 120, C.K. Choi Building, 1855 West Mall
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Lectures are free and open to the public. Seating will be on a first-come first-serve basis. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the lecture.

Buddhist education in China went through a fervent period of growth and significant changes in the first decades of the twentieth century. Under the banners of reform and modernization, numerous new-style Buddhist Studies academics (foxueyuan) were founded in different parts of the country. One of the most important legacies of this development is the emergence of a collective student-monk identity, which served as the ideal for a modern monastic career. Such was an identity that incorporated the discourse of citizenship, a newly defined relationships vis-à-vis the nation-state, as well as the rhetoric of social “usefulness” and engagement. The first part of this talk looks at how student-monks were both the products of a reformulated Buddhism-state relation and active agents for that very transformation in twentieth-century China. In the second part of this presentation, I will evaluate the impact of such identity production on the practice and institutional self-(re)presentation of Buddhism in the Chinese Buddhist worlds throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.

rongdao-1Rongdao Lai is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California. Her teaching and research interests include modern Chinese Buddhism, changes in the religious landscape in modern China, Buddhism modernity, and Buddhism in the Chinese diaspora. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation on modern Buddhist education in China. Her other on-going project focuses on the networks and transnational movements of Chinese Buddhists in the twentieth century.

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