As a cultural anthropologist, my main work to date has been on the changing geopolitical imaginaries of mobile religious communities across Eurasia. I am currently working on a book manuscript that explores the transformation of Buddhist practice among a Siberian indigenous people known as Buryats, foremost through their post-Soviet renewal of transnational ties with their fellow co-religionists across north and south Asia. To capture these issues ethnographically, I have conducted multi-sited field research in Buryat communities in Siberia as well as in Tibetan monasteries in India, where some Buryat monks are currently receiving their religious education. The book focuses on the ways in which religion and politics have intersected under conditions of rapid social change in terms raised by recent work on cultural sovereignty and postsocialist body politics.
As a visual anthropologist, I have directed, filmed, and produced several documentary films on Buryat Buddhism and shamanism, including Join Me in Shambhala (2002) and In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman (2006). I hold a Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University, an M.A. in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester, and a B.S. in Linguistics from Georgetown University. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
In 2010 Caroline Humphrey completed the manuscript of a monograph, jointly authored with Hurelbaatar Ujeed, entitled A Monastery in Time: the Making of Mongolian Buddhism (now under consideration at Chicago University Press). This book is the culmination of many fieldwork visits, since 1995, to Mergen Monastery in the Urad region of Inner Mongolia (China), where a distinctive form of Mongolian-language Buddhism has been upheld since the 18th century.
The book concerns the origin, transmission and political vicissitudes of this tradition from the 18th century up to the present. Several chapters relate to questions of ethics, such as the autobiographical poems of an early 19th century Duke and his anxiety about moral backsliding, the attitudes taken during the Cultural Revolution, the principled role of lay revivers of aspects of the tradition, and divergent ethical paths taken by key lamas in recent years.
Caroline Humphrey is also interested in comparisons between Buddhist and non-Buddhist ethics in the Inner Asian region, particularly in relation to ideas about the self.
David Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls. He has worked on Buddhism and society in Nepal for nearly thirty years, including monographs on Newar Vajrayana Buddhism (Monk, Householder, and Tantric Priest, CUP, 1992) and the recently introduced Theravada movement in Nepal (Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal, with Sarah LeVine, Harvard Univ. Press, 2005). His current research is on transformations of religiosity and the politics of religious affiliation in the Nepali diaspora in the UK (for further details click here).
Professor Fisher's work focuses on the revival of lay Buddhism in contemporary mainland China particularly in Beijing, where he recently completed two years of ethnographic research at the Temple of Universal Rescue (Guangji Si).
Dr. Fisher is currently examining how new converts become attracted to Buddhist teachings following years of state repression and in an environment of rapid cultural change through globalization. He is also researching how discursive communities of lay Buddhists are emerging around the writing and discussion of popular religious literature in new and reviving temples throughout China.
Research interests: Tibetan cultural area and Tibet-Mongolia interface; local-state dynamics and deals with the impact of radical change on traditional communities; landscape, space and time; local history and memory; changing notions of power and kinship; and debates over continuity, tradition and modernity.
The cultures and peoples of Tibet and the Himalayan regions have for centuries been seen by foreigners as principal sites for the study of the ‘traditional’. Today these areas face compelling challenges from global and regional change. The project “Tradition and Modernity in Tibet and the Himalayas” carried out research from 2001 to 2005 into aspects of the tradition-modernity issue in these understudied regions. Through the promotion of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches to research, it produced a wealth of new materials based on primary field studies. It was based on international co-operation involving also Oxford University, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences, the Italian CNR, the French CNRS and Columbia University in New York.
Between 2004-2005 I was involved in a network, funded by the British Academy, investigating Nationalities Cadres and Discourse in Late Socialism: The USSR, Mongolia & China. The project allowed us to organise two international conferences on this theme, one at the East Asia Institute of Columbia University (April 2004) and one at the university of Cambridge in collaboration with CRASSH (April 2005). More generally, the project established an international network to research and analyse major forms through which nationality officials and leaders within the PRC elite communicate, theorise, strategise and enact the maintenance and extension of power.
Between 2004-2007 I coordinated the Tibetan-Mongolian Rare Books and Manuscripts project as part of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU). The project aimed to enhance the preservation, availability and understanding of some 2,300 Tibetan and Mongolian rare manuscripts and books in Britain, archiving them on microfilm and placing the most important on the web. I am currently working on an AHRC Research Project led by Prof. Caroline Humphrey: Tibetan woman-lama and her reincarnations: a study of the bSam-sdings rDor-je Phag-mo (15th-21st Century).
Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao is currently the Director of Institute of Sociology and a joint appointment research fellow of the Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies (CAPAS), both at Academia Sinica, and Professor of Sociology at National Taiwan University.
His areas of specialization include civil society and new democracies, middle class in Asia-Pacific, sustainable development, and NGO studies. His most recent publications include: Changing Faces of Hakka in Southeast Asia: Singapore and Malaysia, (in Chinese, editor, 2011), Interpreting the Social Ethos of Taiwan and Hong Kong, (in Chinese, co-editor, 2011), Social Movements March Again in Taiwan (in Chinese, co-editor, 2010), Cross-Border Marriage with Asian Characteristics (co-editor, 2010), Japan-Taiwan Relations in East Asia’s New Era (in Japanese, co-editor, 2010), Non-Profit Sector: Organization and Practice (in Chinese, co-editor, 2009), Rise of China: Beijing’s Strategies and Implications for the Asia-Pacific (co-editor, 2009).
Address: Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
I became a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1974, and since 1978 have been living in India, helping to initiate and guide several Buddhist activities under the name of Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha, and social projects under the name of Bahujana Hitaya, especially amongst the followers of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
In the last few years I have been developing the Nagarjuna Institute, Nagpur, which runs a one year residential training course in Buddhist teachings and practices for newly converted Buddhists (most of whom were originally from Scheduled Caste communities), from all over India. I am now concentrating on the network of 600 ex-students, who come from 22 States in India.
I have also been involved in helping to develop the Jambudvipa Trust (and especially its Manuski Network) which works with individuals and organisations from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes through training, capacity building, human rights work, and other activities which resulting in awareness development and empowerment.
Joanna Cook is the George Kingsley Roth Research Fellow at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. She has written and lectured on the Anthropology of Ethics, Asceticism, Religion, Buddhism, Fieldwork Methodology, the Gift and Gender.
Her earlier research focused on meditation as a monastic activity. Her recent monograph, published by Cambridge University Press, explores the subjective signification of monastic duties and ascetic practices focusing particularly on the motivation and experience of renouncers, the effect meditative practices have on individuals and community organization, and gender hierarchy within the context of the monastery.
Jonathan Mair is Research Fellow at St John's College, Cambridge. His research interests include Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhism in northern China, as well as Buddhism in London and Taiwan.
Dr. Justin Thomas McDaniel received his PhD from Harvard University’s Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 2003. Presently he teaches Buddhism and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania after previous appointments at Ohio University and the University of California at Riverside. His research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit linguistics and literature, Southeast Asian Buddhism, Thai and Lao art, ritual studies, manuscript studies, and Southeast Asian history.
He is the chair of the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Studies Association and the founder of the NEH funded Thai Digital Monastery Project. He has taught courses on Hinduism, Southeast Asia Literature, Buddhism, Myth and Symbolism, Southeast Asian History, and the Study of Religion after living and researching in South and Southeast Asia for many years as a Social Science Research Council and Fulbright Fellow, translator, volunteer teacher, and Buddhist monk.
His recent publications appear in the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, the Journal of the Siam Society, Journal of Burma Studies, as well as contributions to collected articles on Buddhism and Modernity, Fragile Palm-leaf Manuscript research, and Pali literature in Laos and Thailand. His book, Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words: Histories of Monastic Education in Laos and Thailand, is published by the University of Washington Press (2008) and has other work on Buddhism and Magic and Thai Buddhist Films being published soon.