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Enough with the Nuns! Mothers, Daughters, Wives and Sisters in Japanese Temple Buddhism

Story imageBSW Lecture by Mark Rowe, McMaster University

Buddhist Studies has seen a welcome increase in studies of women over the past two decades, but the focus has almost entirely been on nuns. While crucial, this research neglects the vast majority of female Buddhist professionals in contemporary Japan who are ordained priests and temple abbots. Unlike the sons who are born into temples and raised to run them, these women are entering a world that largely does not want them, often resents their presence, and may not fully recognize them legally. Their stories force us to reconsider our assumptions of how contemporary Japanese Buddhism is lived, negotiated, taught, and propagated. Rather than provide ethnographic cover for over-determined notions of “Japanese Buddhism” or “female Buddhists”, I want to explore particular, localized negotiations of various teachings, customs, and personalities. This is a search for the “ordinary” priest. It is as much an ethnography of doubt and discomfort as of faith and certainty.

Location: Room 137, 1879 Hall, Dept. of Religion

Date/Time: 03/11/14 at 4:30 pm - 03/11/14 at 6:00 pm

Category: Public Lectures

Department: Buddhist Studies Workshop