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Speaker: Matthew King, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Riverside

Moderated by: Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

After the fall of the Qing empire, amid nationalist and socialist upheaval, Buddhist monks in the Mongolian frontiers of the Soviet Union and Republican China faced a chaotic and increasingly uncertain world. In this book, Matthew W. King tells the story of one Mongolian monk’s efforts to defend Buddhist monasticism in revolutionary times, revealing an unexplored landscape of countermodern Buddhisms beyond old imperial formations and the newly invented national subject.

Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood takes up the perspective of the polymath Zawa Damdin (1867–1937): a historian, mystic, logician, and pilgrim whose life and works straddled the Qing and its socialist aftermath, between the monastery and the party scientific academy. Drawing on contacts with figures as diverse as the Dalai Lama, mystic monks in China, European scholars inventing the field of Buddhist studies, and a member of the Bakhtin Circle, Zava Damdin labored for thirty years to protect Buddhist tradition against what he called the “bloody tides” of science, social mobility, and socialist party antagonism. Through a rich reading of his works, King reveals that modernity in Asia was not always shaped by epochal contact with Europe and that new models of Buddhist life, neither imperial nor national, unfolded in the post-Qing ruins. The first book to explore countermodern Buddhist monastic thought and practice along the Inner Asian frontiers during these tumultuous years, Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood illuminates previously unknown religious and intellectual legacies of the Qing and offers an unparalleled view of Buddhist life in the revolutionary period.

Thursday, October 10, 2019
12:00 PM-1:30 PM
Kent Hall 407

No registration required.

For press inquiries, please contact Ariana King at ak4364@columbia.edu

This event is organized by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University.

Event Contact Information:
Athina Fontenot
212-854-6916
af3018@columbia.edu