PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit addresses two significant gaps in current scholarship on Chinese and Indian religious traditions. The first gap is in 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.

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

• Theory and Practice of Yoga and Bodily Disciplines in India and China
We are taking the term “yoga” in a broad sense, to include bodily disciplines, hygienic regimens, inner alchemy, breathing techniques, body maps, pursuit of physical immortality, etc. Approaches can be historical, descriptive, theoretical, etc. The goal is to begin an informed exchanged of information between scholars working on Indian yoga traditions and those working on comparable practices in China. Comparative proposals are welcome, as are proposals focusing on a single work, lineage, set of techniques, etc. from either India or China. Co-sponsored session with Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit, the Daoist Studies Unit, the Tantric Studies Unit, and the Yogacara Studies Unit.
Dan Lusthaus, Harvard University (
Michael Allen, Univ. of Virginia (

• Commentarial Techniques
As a continuation of our previous session on “The Art of Commentary,” we also invite submissions on commentarial techniques as found in India and/or China. How do commentators perform what they wish to accomplish? Comparative proposals are welcome, as are proposals focusing on a single commentary or set of commentaries from either India or China.

For these topics, individual paper proposals are preferred to full session proposals. Questions may be directed to either of the co-chairs.

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Some people contacted the co-chairs prior to their submissions to inquire about whether their proposals fit the parameters of the CFPs.
ChairSteering Committee