Tracing Networks of Efficacy. The Diverse Agencies of Objects in Tibetan Buddhist Material Culture

26.06.2019 18:00 - 20:00

James Gentry | Stanford University

This presentation will discuss the roles of objects in Tibetan Buddhist material culture through describing an unusual compilation of writings about tantric ritual objects and analyzing in particular the most extensive text included therein—an 18th century treatise on tantric Buddhist material culture connected with the tradition of Orgyan Mindröling monastery (O rgyan sMin grol gling). The talk will attempt to trace the notions of efficacy operative in this treatise, focusing on a few key items. It will also attempt to model through an inquiry into the patterns of such notions of efficacy and their relationships how understanding indigenous Tibetan rationales for the nature and function of ritual objects might be aided by methodological inspiration from the reflections of Bruno Latour and the Actor-Network Theory he helped articulate.

James Gentry is a scholar of Buddhism and Tibetan religion, culture, and society. In his PhD dissertation completed in 2014 at Harvard University he studied the roles of sacred objects, such as relics, amulets, and other sacra, in the lives of Tibetan Buddhists. This research formed the basis of his first book, Power Objects in Tibetan Buddhism: The Life, Writings, and Legacy of Sokdokpa Lodrö Gyeltsen, published in Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library (2017). James’s research has led him to live in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, Tibet, China, and India for nearly a decade. He is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University and was Assistant Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies and Director of the Master of Arts in Translation, Textual Interpretation and Philology at the Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu University, Nepal. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief for 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.

Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Seminarraum 1 des ISTB, Universitätscampus, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien