Ester Bianchi: "Modern Buddhism and the Theravāda Model in Republican China"
The presence of Theravāda-inspired forms of practice within Chinese Buddhism has become increasingly visible nowadays, particularly in the field of monastic discipline and meditation. I believe that understanding this presence necessitates inquiring into the very origins and foundations of the phenomenon. The talk will try to trace the spread of the Theravāda model of Buddhism in China throughout the twentieth century, in an attempt to examine how and when this tradition, though initially identified with the label “lower vehicle”, has gained a new status in the eyes of modern Chinese Buddhists. This will include probing into forms of transmission and hybridization.
Ester Bianchi holds a Ph.D. in ‘Indian and East-Asian Civilization’ from the University of Venice (co-tutorial Ph.D received from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses of Paris). Since June 2015, she is associate professor of Chinese Religions and Philosophy, and of Society and Culture of China at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Perugia (Italy). Since 2012, she is external associated researcher of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités CNRS-EPHE. Her research interests are in the religions of China and she is the author of several articles on Sino-Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism; her studies are currently focused on the contemporary spread of Theravāda among Han Chinese, on Chinese Buddhist monasticism, and on monastic discipline in modern and contemporary China. Among her works: The Iron Statue Monastery. Tiexiangsi, a Buddhist Nunnery of Tibetan Tradition in Contemporary China, Firenze, Leo S. Olschki, 2001; and Faxian: un pellegrino cinese nell’India del V secolo. Con traduzione del diario di viaggio Gaoseng Faxian zhuan, Perugia, Morlacchi, 2013.