dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is my very great pleasure to announce the following conference, which all are welcome to attend:

An International Conference on Buddhism and Social Justice 
23-25 April 2014, Leiden University

 Pavilion building, Museum Volkenkunde, 
Steenstraat 1, Leiden

Moving away from a common perception of Buddhism as intrinsically a tradition of peace and justice, our project—based at Leiden University—seeks to explore the various ways in which historically Buddhist societies have shaped, transmitted, and adapted Buddhist ideas and ideals about equality, fairness, and freedom. We are further interested in how (if at all) such societies have instantiated these ideas and ideals.

The intent of the conference “Buddhism and Social Justice” is to gather scholars to discuss Classical and modern Buddhist notions of justice and their real world reflexes. We will be most centrally concerned with Buddhist visions—implicit or explicit—of ideal (just) societies and the role of human action, as these appear, for instance, in the realms of freedom and its constraints, social hierarchy and mobility, economic opportunity, and power and self-determination.

The full text of the initial proposal upon which our project was based, and other information about our research team, and the conference itself, can be consulted on this website.

This Call for Papers hasinvited scholars interested in these issues from a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, point of view to come together and share their expertise, findings and questions. Papers will deal with many regions within Asia and any time period.

The interested public is welcome to attend, but we do ask that you register (free of charge) in order to allow us to plan properly for seats and catering. Registration emails and questions can be sent to 

Please visit our website to view the conference abstracts and to stay updated on conference developments. 

Conference Programme (tentative program)

Wednesday 23 April


Jonathan Silk Buddhism and Social Justice: What are we doing?


Coffee break


Claudio Cicuzza Buddhist notions of justice and modern concepts of Human Dignity


Paulus Kaufmann Roles of Justice in Kūkai’s Ethical Theory


Coffee break


Eugin Ciurtin - Flat and Curved Universes: On Exceptional Agency and Ordinary Social Justice in Indian Buddhism


Lunch break


Steve Collins - On the 'gentle violence' of a stable social order


Coffee break


Berthe Jansen The Impact of the Monastic Institution on Society and Social Justice in Pre-modern Tibet


Johan Elverskog - Buddhism as Colonialism: Mining and Social Exploitation on the Commodity Frontier

Thursday 24 April


Nam-Lin Hur - Buddhism and War: Senriji’s Monthly Newsletters and Shinshū Teachings in Modern Japan, 1929-1944


Coffee break


Vincent Breugem Ghosts Under the Bridge: Famine and Segaki Rituals in Medieval Japan


Pu Chengzhong - Justice for Different Species: the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Early Chinese Buddhism


Coffee break


Thomas Kim Temple Slaves and Monks as Landlords: Issues of Doctrinal Allegiance and Institutional Pragmatism in the Joseon Period


Lunch break + afternoon visit to Keukenhof

Friday 25 April


Joanna Gruszewska The rhetorics of the caste criticism in Vajrasūcī


Jonathan Silk What Remains: Anti-caste Rhetoric and Anti-Outcaste Rhetoric in Indian Buddhism


Vincent Tournier - Cosmogony, Anti-caste Arguments and Royal Epics: the Aggañña Myth and Its Scriptural Contexts


Coffee break


Iselin Frydenlund Religious minorities in Buddhist majority states


Jacques Leider Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingyas in Arakan - Historical grief and ethnic tensions


Lunch break


Chris Lammerts Contested histories of Buddhist law in Burma, c.1200-1800 C.E.


Daniel Webster Kent Thinking Karmically About War in Sri Lanka: Evaluating Actions and Ameliorating Consequences in a Time of Declining Dharma


Coffee break


Chris Wilkinson Political Revolution and the Commoners’ Cause in the Transmission of the Cakrasaṃvaratantra


Ian Harris Kingship, colonialism and republic: Rethinking issues of social justice in modern Cambodia


Coffee break


Round table discussion

J. Silk
Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
The Netherlands

copies of my publications may be found at