Special Issue "Buddhist Women's Religiosity: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Pascale F. Engelmajer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of History, Politics and Religious Studies, Carroll University, Waukesha, WI 53186, USA
Interests: Buddhism, women and Buddhism; mothers and mothering; Pali texts; health and religion; meditation; laity; merit-making

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Much of the scholarship on women in Buddhist studies has justifiably and necessarily focused on monastic women, whether textually and historically (e.g., Anālayo, Collett, Heirman, Kawanami, Muldoon-Hules), or in the contemporary movement to re-establish women’s higher ordination in the Theravāda and Mūlasārvastivāda lineages (e.g., Anālayo, Morh and Roloff). A significant number of scholars in the field have also examined and helped further and nuance our collective critical understanding of the androcentric and misogynistic components of Buddhist texts (e.g., Gross, Ohnuma, Paul), and of women’s religious experience and practices (e.g., Banks Findly, Eberhardt, Falk Lindberg, Salgado).

However, if we aspire to provide a more balanced and complete picture of Buddhist women’s religious lives as social beings (as daughters, wives, mothers, nuns, workers, activists, and politicians), we need to examine with greater attention and depth the positive and affirming dimensions of women’s lived religious experiences outside of the monastic context. This Special Issue invites articles that use a feminist approach, broadly construed, to expand and provide an emphasis on women outside of the traditional monastic context and examine how women, in any Buddhist community, have lived, and continue to live, their Buddhist faith through a wide range of activities, practices and places throughout time and in the contemporary world.

References:

Anālayo. 2013. The Legality of Bhikkhunī Ordination. Journal of Buddhist Ethics 20: 310-32.
Anālayo. 2016. The Foundation History of the Nuns’ Order. Hamburg Buddhist Studies Series 6. Project Verlag.
Banks Findly, Ellison. 2003. Dana: Giving and Getting in Pali Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 
Collett, Alice. 2016. Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biography as History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eberhardt , Nancy. 2006. Imagining the Course of Life: Self-Transformation in a Shan Buddhist Community. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Falk, Monica Lindberg. 2007. Making Fields of Merit: Buddhist Female Ascetics and Gendered Orders in Thailand. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.
Gross, Rita. 1993. Buddhism after Patriarch: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. Albany: SUNY Press.
Heirman, Ann. 2011. Buddhist Nuns Past and Present. Numen 58: 603-31.
Heirman, Ann. 2015. Rules for Nuns According to the Dharmaguptakavinaya. Motilal.
Kawanami, Hiroko. 2013. Renunciation and Empowerment of Buddhist Nuns in Myanmar-Burma: Building A Community of Female Faithful. Leiden: Brill.
Mohr, Thea, and Carola Roloff. 2014. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. Somerville: Wisdom Publications.
Muldoon-Hules, Karen. 2017. Brides of the Buddha: Nuns' Stories from the Avadanasataka. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Ohnuma, Reiko. 2013. Ties that Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Salgado, Nirmala. 2013. Buddhist Nuns and Gendered Practice: In Search of the Female Renunciant. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dr. Pascale F. Engelmajer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • Buddhism
  • women
  • laity
  • mothers
  • meditation

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Article
Embodied Objects: Chūjōhime’s Hair Embroideries and the Transformation of the Female Body in Premodern Japan
Religions 2021, 12(9), 773; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel12090773 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 551
Abstract
The female body in medieval Japanese Buddhist texts was characterized as unenlightened and inherently polluted. While previous scholarship has shown that female devotees did not simply accept and internalize this exclusionary ideology, we do not fully understand the many creative ways in which [...] Read more.
The female body in medieval Japanese Buddhist texts was characterized as unenlightened and inherently polluted. While previous scholarship has shown that female devotees did not simply accept and internalize this exclusionary ideology, we do not fully understand the many creative ways in which women sidestepped the constraints of this discourse. One such method Japanese women used to expand their presence and exhibit their agency was through the creation of hair-embroidered Buddhist images. Women bundled together and stitched their hair into the most sacred parts of the image—the deity’s hair or robes and Sanskrit seed-syllables—as a means to accrue merit for themselves or for a loved one. This paper focuses on a set of embroidered Japanese Buddhist images said to incorporate the hair of Chūjōhime (753?CE–781?CE), a legendary aristocratic woman credited with attaining rebirth in Amida’s Pure Land. Chūjōhime’s hair embroideries served to show that women’s bodies could be transformed into miraculous materiality through corporeal devotional practices and served as evidence that women were capable of achieving enlightenment. This paper emphasizes materiality over iconography and practice over doctrine to explore new insights into Buddhist gendered ritual practices and draws together critical themes of materiality and agency in ways that resonate across cultures and time periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Women's Religiosity: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives)
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Article
Gender Equality in and on Tibetan Buddhist Nuns’ Terms
Religions 2020, 11(10), 543; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/rel11100543 - 21 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1789
Abstract
Gender equality and feminism are often cast as concepts foreign to the Tibetan cultural region, even as scholarship exploring alliances between Buddhism and feminism has grown. Critics of this scholarship contend that it superimposes liberal discourses of freedom, egalitarianism, and human rights onto [...] Read more.
Gender equality and feminism are often cast as concepts foreign to the Tibetan cultural region, even as scholarship exploring alliances between Buddhism and feminism has grown. Critics of this scholarship contend that it superimposes liberal discourses of freedom, egalitarianism, and human rights onto Asian Buddhist women’s lives, without regard for whether/how these accord with women’s self-understandings. This article aims to serve as a corrective to this omission by engaging transnational feminist approaches to listen carefully to the rhetoric, aims, and interpretations of a group of Tibetan nuns who are redefining women’s activism in and on their own terms. We conclude that their terms are not derivative of foreign or secular liberal rights-based theories, but rather outgrowths of Buddhist principles taking on a new shape in modern Tibet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Women's Religiosity: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives)
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