|Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective|
Call for Proposals
This Group wishes to explore the various representations of emotions within the Chinese and Indian religious traditions — particularly engaging textually with both Chinese and Indian materials. We especially encourage presentations by a specialist in one tradition to engage a text from the other tradition. While the session does not explicitly address methodological issues, we assume that there is always a continuum of limitations when we read texts from context to context, and here we are trying to turn a limitation into a means of understanding. It has always been possible for specialists in one area to read or hear those in another, although to have a forum for such interaction on Chinese and Indian materials is rare. We hope that the challenge of unfamiliarity in engaging texts from another tradition will add a new dimension of reflexive understanding for both presenter and audience. Furthermore, we think the provisional context of a session will suit this form of comparative study and lead to genuine mutual exploration of critical intellectual themes. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
We are interested in how certain texts within the two traditions deal with having, expressing, controlling, and transforming emotions and exploring the contexts within which one might entertain these strategies. For example, one could look at art and its expression in classical India and China or the equanimity or radical transcendence of emotion and investigate why certain emotional states (or lack thereof) are privileged over others.
This Group addresses two significant gaps in the current scholarship on Chinese and Indian religious traditions. The first gap is on historical scholarship. India and China have been the two mother cultures of South Asia and East Asia. Historically, the two were connected through the transmission and transformation of Buddhism from India to China. This remarkably fruitful incorporation and assimilation of a foreign system of thought and cultural practice into another well-established civilization is one of the first of its kind in the human history of cross-cultural exchanges, especially at such a magnitude. Unfortunately, there has been inadequate scholarly attention paid to how Indian Buddhism — and its central Asian variants — introduced new issues and imaginations to the Chinese people and how the Chinese managed to appropriate the alien tradition into their own intellectual milieu, hence deeply enriching and reshaping the indigenous Chinese culture. Second, we also seek to redirect some of the attention of the comparative study of religion and philosophy away from the default Western-centered approach. India and China are profoundly important civilizations, both historically and contemporarily. Despite the historical connection of Buddhism, the differences in their cultural products — whether religious, linguistic, philosophical, artistic, or material — are so striking that comparing them would highlight the true richness, plurality, and diversity of human creativity and cultural productivity.
Anonymity of Review Process
Proposer names are visible to Chairs but anonymous to Steering Committee members.
Method of Submission