Ateliers Anthropologie Comparée du bouddhisme : rituel et modernité, 24 mai 2016

Le Centre d’Etudes Himalayennes et le Centre d’Asie du Sud-Est annoncent le

3ème atelier d’Anthropologie Comparée du bouddhisme : Rituel et modernité en contexte bouddhique

24 mai 2016 (9h30 – 18h) au Centre d’études himalayennes, bâtiment D, salle de conférences (rez-de-chaussée) (station Villejuif Paul Vaillant-Couturier, ligne 7 en direction de Villejuif) 7, rue Guy Môquet, 94800 Villejuif


Programme :

9h30 – 9h45 :
Nicolas Sihlé (Centre d’études himalayennes [CNRS])

9h45 – 11h :
Alec Soucy (Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
Meditators vs. Magicians: An Exploration of the Globalisation of Buddhism
Globalisation has been the main driver of a radically reinterpreted and restructured Buddhism. This new Buddhism, variously called “Buddhist Modernism”, “New Buddhism” or “Global Buddhism”, is noted as being rationalistic, individualistic, secular and, to use Charles Taylor’s term, disembedded. The discourses of this reformed Buddhism have had hegemonic power at an international level because of the way they are linked to other Modernist ideologies like nationalism, rationalism, individualism and capitalism. As such, magical Buddhism is frequently cited in these discourses as a non-Buddhist “other”, typically regarded as ignorant superstition. However, while modernist Buddhisms have been most successful until now at internationalising, it is misleading to assume that the globalisation of Buddhism will necessarily mean the ascendancy of modernist over magical Buddhisms. This paper will try to untangle some of the assumptions regarding the link between globalisation and rational Buddhism on the one hand and local Buddhisms and magical practices of efficacy on the other. The primary data that will be used will be my ethnographic work on Vietnamese Buddhism, though it will necessarily look more broadly at Buddhism at the global level.

[11h – 11h15 : pause]

11h15 – 12h30 :
Ward Keeler (University of Texas at Austin / International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden)
Gaining Access to Power: How Burman Buddhists Use “Traditional” and “Modern” Means to Protect Themselves and Get What They Want

If we have learned anything from the debates that have raged among anthropologists and other observers of the forms interaction with the supernatural takes in Theravadin societies of Southeast Asia, it is that all such phenomena need to be considered with reference to each other. Justin McDaniel has dismissed out of hand all attempts to distinguish among proper and improper, or orthodox and heterodox, versions of Buddhist practice in Thailand, saying that what Thais do— in all its diversity and in all its divergences from what text-based understandings of Buddhism
might imply—is what Buddhism is in that society. I am certainly inclined toward this embrace of all understandings and practices to which people who call themselves Buddhist are given. Nevertheless, people in Burma and Thailand are quite ready to make invidious comparisons about what is “correct” and what is “superstitious,” or what is “modern” and what is “old-fashioned.” I suggest that the arguments actually come down to disputes over where power lies and so to whom or what one should bow down. What unites all the participants is the impression that subordinating oneself is an effective means to attaining one’s ends. The fight is over whether compromising one’s
autonomy in this way is appropriate in light of the potential rewards to be reaped in any given instance. The instances I will survey include tattoos, textual recitations, the nat cult, the weikza cult, and meditation.

[12h30 – 14h : pause]

14h00 – 15h15 :
Annabella Pitkin (Lehigh University)
Secularism and Tibetan Buddhist Accounts of Yogic Powers
For Tibetan Buddhists, accounts of yogic power, sometimes described as ‘miracles’ in English, highlight anxieties surrounding secularism and its religious doubles. Accounts of yogic power are familiar to millions of Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhists from the life stories of famous Buddhist practitioners. Yet stories of yogic power pose a potential challenge for audiences today. How do practices of telling, reading, or reflecting on such stories fit with categories of secularism, rationalism and modernity that are so influential in contemporary international knowledge systems? I argue that many influential Tibetan Buddhist intellectuals are simultaneously engaging and
reworking dominant contemporary accounts of secularism, through their interpretation of Buddhist discourses about yogic power. These contemporary Tibetan analyses intervene in the language of power associated with modernity, reframing the claims of secularism around the needs and concerns of present day Tibetan Buddhists, and asserting the validity and “adequacy” (Asad 2003) of Tibetan Buddhist forms of life.

15h15 – 16h30 :
Matthew Kapstein (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
The Great Transference at Drikung Revisited: Reflections on a Tibetan Ritual Revival after Twenty-four Years
In 1992 I had the opportunity to document the festival of pilgrimage and religious instruction known as the Great Transference at Drikung (’bri gung ’pho ba chen mo), revived in that year for the first time since 1956. My study of this event, published as “A Tibetan Festival of Rebirth Reborn: The 1992 Revival of the Drigung Powa Chenmo” (1998), proposed an analysis of the event making reference to the concept of communitas famously developed by Victor Turner and to the dynamics of the politics of ritual as explored by Bruce Lincoln in his study of the Swazi
Ncwala. In my presentation here, I will summarize my findings on the 1992 revival, illustrated with original photographs, and will consider aspects of the development of the Great Transference in the years that have followed, asking whether and in what respects the theoretical frameworks proposed by Turner and Lincoln may still be pertinent in this context.

[16h30 – 16h45 : pause]

16h45 – 18h :
Discutant et discussion finale (à préciser)