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“Time and Kinship: Rebirth and being in Burmese Buddhist cosmology”

Brown Bag Lecture

Speaker: Naoko Kumada, Research Fellow, School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University
Moderated by: Zhaohua Yang, Sheng Yen Assistant Professor of Chinese Buddhism, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Event Summary:
Burmese Buddhists tell rebirth stories to explain where they came from and will go, from previous life to the next in the cycle of rebirth. The ultimate goal of their existence is not for the cycle to continue but to end, so as to attain nirvana. The Western modernist assumption of linear endlessly progressing time embedded in standard models of kinship in anthropology needs to be withdrawn to take into account the Burmese Buddhist experience and practice of kinship, with its multiple concepts of time and multiple paths through which relatedness by blood and water unfold along cycles of rebirth. The Burmese case invites an anthropological inquiry into the concept of time, and offers a critique of, and alternative to, the Western idea of teleological progress.

Date: Thursday, April 18
Time: 12:00 PM-1:30 PM
Venue: International Affairs Building, Room 918
No registration required.
For press inquiries, please contact Ariana King at ak4364@columbia.edu.
Event Contact Information: 
Athina Fontenot