Special Guest Lecture “The Uneven Terrain of Gender and Diversity: The View from the Humanities” by Natasha Heller

A Hot Topic Lecture part of the Doctoral School “Women and Nuns in Chinese Buddhism”

By Natasha Heller, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions, University of Virginia

June 6, 2019; 19:00-21:00

Ghent university, Auditorium P (Zaal Jozef Plateau), Campus Boekentoren. Map


Despite oft-expressed commitments to diversity, American institutions of higher learning remain centered on white men.  If we agree that the academy would better serve its purpose with a more diverse faculty, how is such an aim achieved?  In this talk I will consider how we talk about gender, diversity, and inclusion, and what these terms mean for different stages and dimensions of academic life.  Through case studies of the disciplines of Religious Studies and Asian Studies, I will consider how the issues of gender and diversity vary in different fields of study—and what this might teach us about the challenges of transforming the academy into a more inclusive space.


Natasha Heller is a scholar of Chinese Religions, currently working on contemporary Buddhist children’s literature. At the University of Virginia, she chaired the Faculty Senate committee on Diversity and Inclusion this year. She is also a founder of the website Women in the Study of Asian Religions (wisar.info), which seeks to address the gender imbalance at conferences and lecture series. But, as she notes, her real qualification is being the only woman in the room on too many occasions.

This lecture was co-sponsored by the Tianzhu Foundation.