CFP: Towards an Anthropology of Buddhism

Panel: “Towards an Anthropology of Buddhism”

Panel convenors: Nicolas Sihlé (Center for Himalayan Studies, CNRS) & Patrice Ladwig (Max Planck Institute / U. of Zurich)

Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS)

Vienna, 18-23 August 2014

This day-long panel will bring together a wide range of scholars working all over the Buddhist world. The aim is to contribute to the emerging project of an “anthropology of Buddhism” (see CFP below), as well as to bringing a stronger anthropological perspective into Buddhist Studies and the conference.

The CFP:

Rongwo monastery, NE Tibet (N. Sihlé 2011).

Rongwo monastery, NE Tibet (N. Sihlé 2011).


Through a recent series of panels/workshops, in Asia, America and Europe, the project of an “anthropology of Buddhism” as an ethnographically based, comparatively and theoretically informed shared endeavour of a community of scholars (in the way that we have seen the recent formation of an “anthropology of Christianity”) is starting to emerge. As a step in that direction, this panel will present the results of ethnographically based work, conducted in a wide range of Buddhist social settings. We particularly invite contributions that are framed by an assessment of the state of the art in the anthropology of Buddhism with regard to the central topics that they address.

As possible directions, we invite contributions that deepen or question, substantively, comparatively and analytically, our knowledge of relatively better-studied contexts (e.g., rural, rather mainstream traditions subsumed under the categories of Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana), but also contributions that explore less well-studied situations: ‘ethnic minority Buddhisms’ or high Buddhist elites; heterodoxies or praxies; urban, transnational or multiethnic settings. We seek contributions bringing fresh perspectives on classic themes and theories, or that attempt to open up the anthropology of Buddhism to less explored issues and approaches, such as (to name just a few): embodied moral traditions of asceticism, learning and healing; the ethnography of texts and other Buddhist media; or emergent Buddhist economics, politics and socialities in the face of contemporary changes.

For more information on the conference:
Conference homepage:
List of accepted panels:

Please send proposals or direct any inquiries to both Nicolas Sihlé (nicolas.sihle[at] and Patrice Ladwig (patrice[at] We would need a title and an abstract (250-500 words) by the 15th of October (the finalized panel titles and abstracts have to be submitted to the conference organizers by the 1st of November).

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Nicolas Sihlé (September 25, 2013). CFP: Towards an Anthropology of Buddhism. The Himalayas and beyond. Retrieved July 18, 2024 from

Nicolas Sihlé

Nicolas Sihlé, a sociocultural anthropologist, is researcher at the Center for Himalayan Studies, a research unit of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) based in Villejuif (France). He specializes on Tibetan religion and society, and is the author of Rituels bouddhiques de pouvoir et de violence : La figure du tantriste tibétain [Buddhist rituals of power and violence : The figure of the Tibetan tantrist] (Brepols, 2013). His current work focuses on post-Mao socioreligious transitions in and around the famous communities of non-monastic specialists of tantric Buddhism in northeast Tibet (Amdo), and more generally on the comparative anthropology of Buddhism.

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1 Response

  1. Nicolas Sihlé says:

    The programme for the panel, with abstracts, can now be found here:

    Aug. 23, 2014
    Morning session:

    Patrice Ladwig & Nicolas Sihlé. Introduction, part I
    Patrice Ladwig & Nicolas Sihlé. Introduction, part II
    Charles Ramble. Revisiting a Tibetan Bonpo Ceremony in Highland Nepal: An Essay in Uncompromising Anthropology
    John Marston. The transnationalism of merit. Diaspora communities, Cambodian student monks, pilgrims and building projects in South Asia
    Jane Caple. The Buddhist gift and the making of moral worlds: Perspectives on different forms and modes of giving in a Tibetan context
    – Discussion (led by David Gellner)

    Afternoon session:

    Florence Galmiche. The paradoxical place of meditation in South Korean lay Buddhism
    Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière. Becoming Buddhist Anew. Some Remarks about a Buddhist Ritual Initiation
    Juliane Schober. Rethinking Buddhist Authority and Secular Power in Modern Myanmar
    Maria Turek. The Hermit as Modern Saint in Contemporary Eastern Tibet
    William Tuladhar-Douglas. From the anthropology of Buddhism to a Buddhist anthropology
    – Discussion (led by David Gellner)

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