China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: This panel examines new analytical frontiers in the study of Buddhist healing and the open question of the modern and modernization in contemporary Asia. Presenters identify understudied institutional and epistemic circulations aligned with or against a dominant medicalized modernity in Asia. Each paper introduces an actor, network, discourse, or practice engaged with competing models of “Buddhist” and “secular modern” therapeutics and body-mind cultivation. Contrasting Tibetan and Japanese case studies from the last century illuminate the dynamic construction of “Buddhist tradition” in relation to the “medical modern” across much of late-and post-colonial and imperial Asia. In this panel, refugee monks, lay female healers, business leaders, traditional physicians, and theorists of erotic pathways to Dharmic wellbeing reveal how practices of bodily and mental health draw upon but also always exceed registers such as "Buddhist" and "non-Buddhist," "tradition" and "modern," "Asia" and "the West," "immaterial" and "material," and "science" and "spirituality/religion." Moving from their historically-bounded case studies, contributors will specifically draw attention to ongoing questions and contestations about the boundary lines between—and the (in)commensurability of—stagnation/circulation and scientific language of organic life, immaterial mind and the biomedical body, lineal transmission and modern secularism, liberation and sexual harm by Buddhist teachers. This panel also includes two discussants—one a global expert in the field of Buddhist medicine and globalization and the other an expert of health and Dharmic well-being in America. They will identify wider themes and assess the cross-disciplinary implications for Asian Studies of research into the ever-evolving frontiers of Buddhism and the medical modern.
Paper Presenter: Matthew W. King – University of California, Riverside
Paper Presenter: Amy Langenberg – Eckerd College
Paper Presenter: Melissa Curley – Ohio State University
Paper Presenter: Justin Stein – Kwantlen Polytechnic University