Short-term visiting scholar 2019–2020: Prof. Dr. James A. Benn (McMaster University, Canada)

Professor James A. BENN was trained primarily as a scholar of medieval Chinese religions (Buddhism and Taoism).  His research is aimed at understanding the practices and world views of medieval men and women, both religious and lay, through the close reading of primary sources in literary Chinese—the lingua franca of East Asian religions. He has concentrated on three major areas of research: bodily practice in Chinese Religions; the ways in which people create and transmit new religious practices and doctrines; and the religious dimensions of commodity culture. In particular James A. Benn has worked on self-immolation, Chinese Buddhist apocrypha, and the religious and cultural history of tea.

With the generous support of the Tianzhu Foundation Professor Benn participated in the Kosmoi Conference titled “Good – Better – Best. Asceticism and the Way to Perfection” and organized at the Catholic University of Leuven (October 21–23, 2019). The title of his paper is: “Is Buddhist Self-immolation a Form of Asceticism?”

This visit was made possible due to the generous support of the Tianzhu Foundation.