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Buddhism Unit and Chinese Religions Unit

Call for Proposals

Author Meets Critic: Reading Matthew King’s In the Forest of the Blind (Columbia University Press 2022) for Decolonizing Buddhist Studies 

 

What does a “critical Buddhist studies” look like? Matthew King responds to this question with his experiment in “anti-field history.” In the Forest of the Blind is a study of the nineteenth and twentieth-century circulation through Europe and Inner Asia of the Foguo ji, the account of Faxian’s fifth-century travels to Buddhist sites in South and Central Asia. Incorporating Chinese, French, Mongolian, and Tibetan sources, this book provokes conversations across linguistic, regional, and temporal boundaries. King shows how Inner Asian authors transformed Orientalist renderings of Faxian’s account through such diverse lenses as Qing world historical order, emergent nationalisms, and the Tibetan refugee experience. These lenses were themselves also transformed. The panelists respond to questions such as: What does it mean to emphasize “negative space and absence” over “impact or influence” in the historical approaches to Buddhist worlds? How can “circulatory” histories contribute to decolonial, deimperializing, and deorientalising scholarship? 

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Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection