A number of works cover the anthropology of Buddhism in a general way, and several of these target the methodological approach. These often present a corrective to the preference of the Theravādin over the Mahāyāna traditions in past scholarship. Nash’s landmark 1966 essay critiques the lack of field experience of historical and textual scholars; here, Nash, et al. 1969 provides one of the earliest attempts by anthropologists to expand the field of Buddhist studies beyond the historical and textual. Smith 1968 is a unique study for its period, one of the earlier attempts to engage on a theoretical level what Smith called a “Buddhist anthropology” of contemporary Sinhala Buddhist society and its engagement with the secular. The Oxford-based special 1990 issue of the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford (JASO) is especially dedicated to the anthropology of Buddhism. An in-depth introduction, five review articles, sixteen book reviews, and two essays problematize the approaches of the anthropology of Buddhism, especially the prioritizing of the Theravādin tradition and the neglect of the Mahāyāna because of Western academic preferences and biases. Gellner 2001 applies the often popular Weberian approach to the study of religion in ethnographic studies of Nepal and Japan. Spencer 1990 provides an update on the anthropology of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. In tracing the history of the disciplinary identification of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as an anthropological object, De Silva 2006 questions Weberian and structuralist models including colonialist production of knowledge in the study of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of cultural and social anthropologists directing their attention to the study of rituals in Nepal, particularly Tibetan and Newar Buddhisms. Samuel 2005 updates the author’s earlier 1978 call for an interdisciplinary approach to Tibetan religious studies. Here he offers a new approach to Tibetan studies scholarship, which he sees represented as predominantly monastic oriented, and invites scholars to follow Southeast Asian scholarship’s shift to a more anthropological lens. Ramble 1990 notes in a study of Tibetan communities that anthropology concerns the ways in which traditions differ, not the degrees to which they do, noting discrepancies between precept and practice (a typical trend in the anthropology of Buddhism, as in the works of Richard Gombrich).
De Silva, Premakumara. “Anthropology of ‘Sinhala Buddhism.’” Contemporary Buddhism 7.2 (2006): 165–170.
DOI: 10.1080/14639940601025148E-mail Citation »
Traces the history of the disciplinary identification of Theravāda Buddhism in Sri Lanka as an anthropological object. This essay also disputes the idealized Weberian and functionalist approach and the ways in which anthropological and colonial productions of knowledge about religion and ritual have objectified Buddhism in an unproblematic way.
Gellner, David N. “Introduction: What Is the Anthropology of Buddhism About?” Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 21.2 (1990): 95–112.
E-mail Citation »
Part of a special JASO issue edited by Gellner dedicated to the anthropology of Buddhism and the wider issues of definitions and categories like Theravāda and Mahāyāna, Buddhist ritual, and the role of Christian Western scholars in scholarship about Buddhism.
Gellner, David N. The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001.
E-mail Citation »
A collection of essays that both engages with Max Weber’s work combined with detailed ethnography from Nepal and Japan. It challenges critical questions in the anthropology and sociology of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Nash, Manning, Gananath Obeyesekere, Michael M. Ames, et al. “Ethnology: Anthropological Studies in Theravāda Buddhism.” American Anthropologist 71.6 (December 1969): 1149–1152.
E-mail Citation »
This is one of the earliest attempts, by nine anthropologists, to expand Buddhist studies beyond the historical and textual approaches and so-called romanticist scholars who dominated the field and created a foundation for further approaches in the anthropology of Buddhism.
Ramble, Charles. “How Buddhist Are Buddhist Communities? The Construction of Tradition in Two Lamaist Villages.” Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 21.2 (1990): 185–197.
E-mail Citation »
This essay discusses the anthropological focus by examining the discrepancy between precept and practice. The author examines the ways in which village communities form representations of the religion itself, and how Buddhist precepts and forms of behavior are incorporated into local traditions.
Samuel, Geoffrey. “Tibet and the Southeast Asian Context: Rethinking the Intellectual Context of Tibetan Studies.” In Tantric Revisionings: New Understandings of Tibetan Buddhism and Indian Religion. By Geoffrey Samuel, 192–214. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005.
E-mail Citation »
This work offers a corrective to the problem in Tibetan studies of isolating Tibetan societies from other Asian cultures and their studies, as well as the lack of larger regional discourses, especially Southeast Asian anthropology. The essay also critiques the lack of integration between Tibetanist and Sinologist discourses and the predominance of studies of monastic-oriented religious studies.
Smith, Bardwell L. “Toward a Buddhist Anthropology: The Problem of the Secular.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 36.3 (September 1968): 203–216.
DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/XXXVI.3.203E-mail Citation »
This essay is one of the earliest attempts to discuss theoretically a particular Buddhist anthropological approach to contemporary Buddhist encounters with issues of the secular and the development of a new social ethic.
Spencer, J. “Tradition and Transformation: Recent Writing on the Anthropology of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.” Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 21.2 (1990): 129–140.
E-mail Citation »
This review article discusses the key perspectives in the anthropology of Buddhism and covers some of the seminal works about Sri Lanka. Key perspectives that have been the landmark of this approach include colonized Buddhism, the Buddhist way of life through the works of Carrithers and Southwold, and Buddhism transformed in the works of Gombrich and Obeyesekere.
This book is a collection of essays by Mark Siderits on topics in Indian Buddhist philosophy. The essays are divided into six main systematic sections, dealing with realism and anti-realism, further problems in metaphysics and logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, ethics, and specific discussions of the interaction between Buddhist and classical Indian philosophy. Each of the essays is followed by a postscript Mark Siderits has written specifically for this volume. The postscripts make it possible to connect essays of the volume with each other, showing thematic interrelations, or locat ... More
This book is a collection of essays by Mark Siderits on topics in Indian Buddhist philosophy. The essays are divided into six main systematic sections, dealing with realism and anti-realism, further problems in metaphysics and logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, ethics, and specific discussions of the interaction between Buddhist and classical Indian philosophy. Each of the essays is followed by a postscript Mark Siderits has written specifically for this volume. The postscripts make it possible to connect essays of the volume with each other, showing thematic interrelations, or locating them relative to the development of Siderits’s thought. In addition, they allow Siderits to discuss which arguments or interpretations in an essay he no longer endorses. Even though the central point of all of the papers included in this collection is still accepted by Siderits, in various cases he has changed his mind about certain details. The postscripts identify these changes and discuss their motivations and further implications. Finally, they provide the opportunity of addressing the fact that for most of these essays, the discussion has moved on since the time of publication. New works have been published, new translations have come out, and additional connections have been discovered. The postscripts make it possible to acquaint the reader with the most important of these developments.
Keywords: Mark Siderits, Buddhist philosophy, anti-realism, metaphysics, logic, epistemology, philosophy of language, Classical Indian philosophy
|Print publication date: 2016||Print ISBN-13: 9780198754862|
|Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016||DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754862.001.0001|