[INDOLOGY] AAR Call: The Business of Asceticism

Matthew Milligan mattdmilligan at gmail.com
Tue Feb 18 01:03:52 UTC 2020

Dear Indology colleagues,

Nicholas Witkowski (NTU-Singapore) and I (Trinity University) would like to invite proposals for our new paper panel within the Buddhism Unit at the upcoming AAR annual conference.

The title is:
The Business of Asceticism during the Long 1st Millennium CE

and our proposal is below:

The study of Buddhism in Asia has long been overdetermined by a debate set into motion long ago by Protestant and Catholic theologians over the proper role of the ascetic in religion and society. Weber, for example, argued that the deeply ascetic focus on the body, characteristic of Catholicism, was inherently antithetical to the economic focus of Protestant inner-asceticism on capital accumulation. The classic version of this assertion in academia is the claim that Buddhism is a religion of the “middle way,” a view that claims another-worldly bodily asceticism was antithetical to the this-worldly Buddhist mainstream focus on the economics of institution-building. Scholars such as Gregory Schopen have argued that Buddhism is not about bodily asceticism, but is really a business. Rather than viewing bodily asceticism and the pragmatics of the monastic economy as mutually exclusive modes of inquiry, this panel will be devoted to bringing these two discursive strands together, looking to examine whether we can discover a business of asceticism in the monastery. This panel is looking for papers that bring the themes of monastic economy and ascetic practice into dialogue.

A couple of notes: 1.) We see this as a pan-Asian phenomenon worthy of both comparative and micro-study; 2.) we view the “Long 1st millennium” flexibly; 3.) we are open to comparative discussions between traditions.

We are looking for abstract submissions and are happy to talk through any potential proposals as well.

Please submit via email to Nick and I at:
mattdmilligan at gmail.com and
nwitkowski at ntu.edu.sg

Genuine apologies for cross-posting this everywhere we can think of!

Thank you for your understanding and are looking forward to your proposals.


Matthew D. Milligan, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Religion
Trinity University

"Be a thinker, not a stinker." - Apollo Creed

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