26 June 2013

On Wednesday, June 26, at 6 p.m., Rebecca Copeland (Washington University of St Louis) is giving a lecture in the series Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Japanese contemporary literature.

This lecture, co-organized by the EFEO Centre and the ISEAS, is to take place at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.

28 May 2013

On Tuesday, May 28, at 6 p.m., Nissim Otmazgin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is giving a lecture in the series Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Stories for the Nation: Rewriting History in Manga.

This lecture, co-organized by the EFEO Centre and the ISEAS, is to take place at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.

27 Febuary 2013

On Wednesday, February 27 (at 6 p.m.), Kacem Zoughari (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Nichibunken) is giving a lecture in the series Kyoto Lectures on the topic

The Transmission's Modes in Japanese Classical Fighting Art: A Study on Transmission Documents (densho).

This lecture, organized jointly by the EFEO and ISEAS centers, takes place at the Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences at Kyoto University.

23 January 2013

On Wednesday, January 23 (at 6:00 p.m.), Anna Andreeva (University of Heidelberg) is giving a lecture in the series Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Assembling Shinto: Buddhist approaches to kami worship in Medieval Japan

This lecture, co-organized by the EFEO and ISEAS Centers, is taking place at the Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.On Thursday,

19 December 2012

On Wednesday, December 19, at 6:00 p.m., Mark Ravina (Emory University, Atlanta) is giving a talk in the series Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Nationalism and National Currency: Political Imagery in the early Meiji Era.

This lecture, co-sponsored by the EFEO and ISEAS Center, and by the Kansai Modern Japan Group, is taking place at the Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences of Kyoto University.

13 November 2012

On November 13 (at 6 p.m.), Vincent Giraud (Department of Philosophy of Religions of the Kyoto University) is giving à presentation in the Kyoto Lectures series on the topic:

Decentering Existence: Nishitani and Augustine

at the Humane Sciences Research Institute of Kyoto University.

17 October 2012

On October 17 (at 6 p.m.), Donatella Failla (Director of the Genoa's Japanese art Museum Edoardo Chiossone) is giving à presentation in the Kyoto Lectures series on the topic:

A Western Daitokuten in Meiji Japan: Edoardo Chiossone, his ‘Daitoku banknotes' and his humorous portrait by Watanabe Kyôsai

at the Humane Sciences Research Institute of Kyoto University.

27 June 2012

On June 27 (at 6 p.m.), Bret Davis (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University, Maryland) is giving a lecture in the Kyoto Lectures series on the topic

Encounter in Emptiness: The I-Thou Relation in Nishitani Keiji's Philosophy of Zen

at the Humane Sciences Research Institute of Kyoto University.

6 June 2012

On June 6 (at 6 p.m.), Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (Research Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison) is giving a presentation in the Kyoto Lectures series on the topic

Many Meanings of Cherry Blossoms: Communicative Opacity in Political Spaces

at the Humane Sciences Research Institute of Kyoto University.

26 April 2012

On April 26 (6 p.m.), Joseph T. Sorensen (University of California, Davis) is giving a lecture as part of the Kyoto Lectures on the topic:

The Story behind the Poem: The Elevation of Vernacular Fiction in Court Poetry

at the Institute  for Research in the Humane Sciences (Jinbun kagaku kenkyûjo) of Kyoto University.

15 March 2012

On March 15 (6 p.m.), Marc-Henri Deroche (Kyoto University) is giving a lecture as part of the Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Memory, Revelation and Authority: The gter ma Traditions from the Ancient Tibetan Empire to the Fifth Dalai Lama

at the Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences (Jinbun kagaku kenkyûjo) of Kyoto University.

2 November 2011

On November 10 (6:00 p.m.), Benjamin Perry (Deputy Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at Australian National University-Canberra) is giving a lecture as part of the Kyoto Lectures on the topic

Philosophy and Vain Deceit: Anti-Buddhist Polemics in mid-nineteenth century China

at the Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences (Jinbun kagaku kenkyûjo) of Kyoto University.

14 July 2011

On 14 July (at 6.00 p.m.), Fabio Rambelli, University of California Santa Barbara, gives a lecture at the Kyoto Lectures on the subject: :

‘The Dharma Preaches Equality and Has No Hierarchy' : Uchiyama Gudô and the Experiment of Buddhist Anarchism

at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.

16 June 2011

On 16 June (at 6.00 p.m.), Scot Hislop (National University of Singapore) gives a lecture at the Kyoto Lectures on the subject:

Traces of the Gods: Writing and Hirata Atsutane's Imagining of the ‘Illustrius Imperial Land

at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.

24 February 2011

On 24 February(at 6:00 p.m.), Erick Laurent (Gifu Keizai University) is giving a lecture in the Kyoto Lectures Series on the subject:

Just ‘a bunch of softies and sissies'? Masculinities in the Ryûkyûs,

at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humane Sciences.

16 December 2010

On December 16 (11:00 a.m.), Erica Baffelli (University of Otago, New Zealand), as part of the series Kyoto Lectures (EFEO/ISEAS), is giving a lecture on the topic

Can the internet make religion? Japanese "New Religions" on line

(in English), at Kyoto University's Institute for Research in the Humanities.

2 December 2010

On December 2 (6:00 p.m.), Mechtild Mertz (guest researcher at the Research Institute for Nature and Humanity, Kyoto) is giving a talk as part of the series Kyoto Lectures (EFEO/ISEAS) on the topic

Wood Culture in Pre-Modern China and Wood Identification: Sculptures, Buildings, Excavated Remains

(in English).

9 November 2010

On November 9 (at 6 p.m.), Lim Beng Choo (Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the Singapore National University) is giving a lecture in the series Kyoto Lectures (EFEO / ISEAS) on the topic

Nobumitsu, Zenpō and ‘Furyū Noh': Re-examining the Late Muromachi Noh Theater

(in English).

13 May 2010

Conference by Nam-lin Hur, Professor in the Asian Studies Department and Director of the Center for Korean Studies at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject:

Why did Hideyoshi Invade Korea in 1592?: A New Approach

Japan's Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea in 1592 in the name of conquering Ming China. The invasion, which soon developed into an international conflict, embroiled all the major countries in the region and led them into uncharted territory. The aftermath was epochal, involving regime collapses and profound social transformations throughout the region.

What caused Hideyoshi to envision a continental conquest? Did he really think that Japan would be able to conquer China and exercise political hegemony over the region? These questions hold the key to understanding the matrix of international conflict in the geopolitical setting of a China-centered regional order at the time-a setting that Hideyoshi attempted to replace with his own vision of a new regional order controlled by Japan. Based on a wide range of materials, the talk will explore what was behind Hideyoshi's decision for the invasion that eventually proved to be lethal to his own regime.

Nam-lin Hur is Professor in the Department of Asian Studies and serves as Director of the Centre for Korean Research at the University of British Columbia. His teaching focuses on premodern Japanese history and international relations (particularly those between Korea and Japan) in premodern and modern East Asia. His book publications include: Prayer and Play in Late Tokugawa Japan: Asakusa Sensoji and Edo Society (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000) and Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System (Harvard University Asia Center, 2007). His current research involves Kaichō and Buddhist culture in early modern Japan and Japan's invasion of Chosŏn Korea, 1592-1598.

22 April 2010

Conference by Elizabeth Oyler (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Poetry, Travel, and Early Medieval Michiyuki: Taira on the Tôkaidô in Tales of the Heike

The establishment of Japan's first shogunate in Kamakura following the Genpei War of 1180-1185 drastically altered the political and cultural shape of the realm and ushered in the age of the warriors, which would remain in place in one form or another until 1868. This change was culturally momentous enough to inspire Japan's most influential medieval war tale, Heike monogatari (Tales of the Heike). And Heike in turn provided material for narrative and drama throughout the medieval and modern periods as well. Much of its lasting importance derives from its lyrical rendering of a time of significant historical change, when paradigms of governance, cultural practice, and geography were indelibly transformed.

This lecture focuses on one moment within the Heike narrative in which the geo-political meaning of the new warrior capital is addressed. As Taira Shigehira, a leading general of the losing side in the war, is taken along the Tōkaidō to Kamakura for final judgment, he stops at Ikeda post station, where he spends the night and exchanges poems with a woman named Jijū. Through a discussion of this episode and its allusive relationship to a slightly earlier travel narrative, Kaidōki, it will be argued that their exchange represents a reinterpretation of the relationship between the capital and the provinces, old and the new, and home and dispossession, subtly framed in the form of a conventional poetry exchange between a man and a woman he meets on the road.

Elizabeth Oyler is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on medieval narrative and drama, particularly Heike monogatari and other works concerning the Genpei War (1180-1185). She is author of Swords, Oaths, and Prophetic Visions: Authoring Warrior Rule in Medieval Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2006)and several articles. She is spending January through May 2010 at the National Institute for Japanese Literature in Tachikawa and studying Heike biwa, recitation of Heike monogatari.

25 March 2010

Conference by Caroline Hirasawa in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

The Profit in Portraying Hells for Women in Tateyama mandara

During the Edo period (1600-1868) narrations of paintings today called Tateyama mandara enabled priests from the foothills of the mountain Tateyama to transport their far-flung sacred landscape to new spaces and thereby to purvey products and services. The priests emphasized the mountain as a portal to the other world and promoted interventions for saving women, seen as doomed to hell without professional assistance. Among the many stories and landmarks illustrated in the images are a series of hells specifically designated for women, repurposed from other image traditions in ways that reveal much about the nature of the Tateyama cult. Tateyama mandara reflect contemporary concerns about female reproductive responsibilities and repercussions, and indicate the cult's solutions to the problem of female salvation. This talk will attempt to explore the demand side of these illustrated marketing campaigns.

Caroline Hirasawa is an Assistant Professor of Japanese art history at Sophia University in Tokyo. She has written on the classical and medieval development of hell painting in Japan, and is currently completing a book entitled, Hellbent on Heaven: Damnation and Salvation in Tateyama mandara.

25 February 2010

Conference by Jin Baek in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Climate, Sustainability and the Space of Ethics:
Watsuji Tetsuro’s Cultural Climatology and Residential Architecture

In the contemporary discourse of sustainability in architecture and urbanism, climate is often understood through the collection of data related to natural phenomena, such as rains, seasonal directions and intensities of winds. What is overlooked in this approach, however, is the notion of climate itself. Cultural context leads us to rediscover the value of Watsuji Tetsuro's (1889-1960) notion of "climate" (fūdo). With reference to Watsuji’s philosophy, this presentation will demonstrate: first, how climate is not merely scientific, but intertwined with humane qualities; second, how climate operates as the context for discovery of “who we are”; third, the relationship between climate and inter-personal ethics; and lastly, how inter-personal ethics operate as the basis for efficient, sustainable building performance. In this lecture, the spatial composition of exemplary residential works—both traditional and contemporary—will also be discussed with reference to the intermeshed schema of climate, sustainability and ethics.

Jin Baek teaches theory and design studio as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, Pennsylvania State University. He completed his Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, after studying at Yale University (M.A.) and Seoul National University (B.S.). His articles dealing with cross-cultural issues between East Asian and Western modern architecture have been published in leading architectural and philosophical journals, including Architectural Research Quarterly, Architectural Theory Review, Journal of Architectural Education, and Philosophy East and West. He is also the author of Nothingness: Tadao Ando’s Christian Sacred Space (Routledge, 2009).

26 January 2010

Conference by Pauline Kent in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: A relic of the past?

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is now often relegated to the pile of quaint or exotic studies on the society of Japan. However, ever since its first publication in English (1946) and Japanese (1948) it has never been out of print and, recently, has enjoyed a renaissance as it has been translated into many more languages. The book itself was the product of, not only wartime studies, but also the social and professional background of its author, Ruth Benedict. Benedict, one of the pioneers of cultural anthropology, introduced a number of new ideas and methods during her studies on cultures. Ironically, her rejection of racial determinism and attempts to demonstrate the relativity of cultures has led to criticism of her own studies as culturally deterministic. There are now many (often uncritical) criticisms of both Chyrsanthemum and Benedict, but this talk will try to elucidate some of the background surrounding the continuing success of the book, which, in its latest reincarnation, has recently enjoyed much popularity in China.

Pauline Kent teaches at the Faculty of Intercultural Studies, Ryukoku University, Japan. She is presently Director of the Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies, Ryukoku University. Publications on Benedict include "Misconceived Configurations of Ruth Benedict: The Debate in Japan over The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", in Reading Benedict/Reading Mead: Feminism, Race, and Imperial Visions (Johns Hopkins Press, 2004); and "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: The use of radical comparisons to enhance mutual understanding" (Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies Working Paper 33, 2008).

15 December 2009

Conference by Ellen Van Goethem (Assistant Professor, Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies, Hosei University) in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Questioning the Landscape: In Search of the Four Gods Protecting Japan's Chinese-style Capitals

(en anglais). In ancient Japan, geophysical divination was an integral part of the site selection process preceding the relocation of capital cities. A site was considered auspicious if protected by four gods-the Black Turtle-Snake, the Vermilion Bird, the Azure Dragon, and the White Tiger-but primary sources provide scant information on the actual landscape features representing these gods. Secondary sources describing the site selection process, particularly those discussing the siting of Heian-kyō, generally resort to the term "the four guardian gods are in balance" (shijin sōō) and its interpretation offered in the Sakuteiki, the text on garden aesthetics attributed to Tachibana no Toshitsuna (1028-94). In a section on the planting of trees in the garden of a private residence, the Sakuteiki explains that an auspicious site requires the presence of a mountain, a plain, a river, and a road to the north, south, east, and west, respectively. It is commonly assumed that this way of divining the four gods in the landscape was a development unique to Japan. Based on textual analysis, however, this talk will first show that a similar tradition existed on the continent. Using geographical as well as written evidence, it will then be argued that the Sakuteiki explanation should not be used to describe the site selection process of Chinese-style capitals. Instead, it will be suggested that the Sakuteiki interpretation developed out of a need to make individual house lots within the capital fortuitous.

Ellen Van Goethem is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies, Hosei University. Before joining Hosei University in 2008, she has been a visiting researcher at Ritsumeikan University and Kyoto University, and taught at Ghent University. Her principal field of research concerns Chinese-style capital cities in Japan with a special focus on Nagaoka. She is the author of Nagaoka: Japan's Forgotten Capital (Brill, 2008).

22 October 2009

Conference by Steven Trenson, post doctorat researcher at the Kyoto 'University and at the EPHE, in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Divination Board Rituals in Medieval Japan: From the Perspective of Rain Prayers in Shingon Buddhism

Speaker: Steven Trenson
Discussant: Iyanaga Nobumi
In Japanese medieval religion there existed Tantric rituals in which the divination board of Chinese origin (called shikiban) was used as a kind of mandala with important cosmic symbolism. On the central axis of these mandalas, around which the heaven-plate revolved above the earth-plate of the diviner's board, one Buddhist deity was depicted or visualized. In this talk several types of "board rituals" (shikihō) will be introduced, and their characteristics and origins discussed. With regard to their historical development, special emphasis will be laid on the Tantric rain ritual of the Shingon school. As it will be illustrated, although in this ritual the divination board was not used, its inner and outer structure showed aspects reminiscent of a board cosmogram. Shingon speculation on the rain ritual and dragon cult thus offers a major clue for understanding the nature of board rituals.

Steven Trenson is a JSPS research fellow at Kyoto University and postdoctoral candidate at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. He has also already received a PhD from the Department of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. His past research involved Tantric rain rituals and dragon cults of the Shingon school in medieval Japan. His major articles include "Une analyse critique de l'histoire du Shōugyōhō et du Kujakukyōhō: rites ésotériques de la pluie dans le Japon de l'époque de Heian" (Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, vol. 13, 2003) and "Daigoji ni okeru kiu no kakuritsu to Seiryōjin shinkō wo megutte" (forthcoming in a volume on Japanese medieval religion to be published by Hōzōkan). He is currently working on the influence of the dragon cult on board rituals and on the doctrine of Miwaryū-Shintō.

Iyanaga Nobumi is an independent researcher specializing in the study of Buddhist mythology, with a special interest in the religious culture of medieval Japan. Currently he holds a research contract at the Tokyo centre of the Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient.

30 July 2009

Conference by Jun'ichi Isomae, Lecturer of Religious Studies at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Negotiating with Others: Considering the Case of Japanese Studies

In contemporary intellectual life the representation of others remains a primary issue, especially ever since the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism. Said pointed out the violence of representing other cultures as "exotic or savage". How to encounter others is a serious question even when we systematically study other cultures. For a couple of decades postcolonial studies have criticized the notion of "purity" in referring to any cultural identity by appealing to the concept "hybridity". In just the same way Japanese studies cannot exist separately from this politics of representation, including the positionality of any individual scholar him/herself. At root the problem of representation is an ethical issue. Through the case of Japanese studies this talk would consider what kind of the process functions when we represent others or are represented to others. This examination consequently leads to the fundamental question, who are "others"? Japanese studies may offer a clue to reconsider this problem.

Jun'ichi Isomae is associate professor of Religious Studies at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto. He received his master's degree from the University of Tokyo in the Department of Religious Studies. His major work has involved the perception of the concept "religion" in modern Japan in the wake of Westernization. His forthcoming books include Japanese Mythology: Hermeneutics on Scripture in English and Kiki to Kōkogaku in Japanese (Kiki and Archeology: Nostalgia for the Archaic). Currently he is interested in the sense of nostalgia for historical origins and the representation of others in historical imagination.

Discutant : Timothy Fitzgerald is Reader in Religion at the University of Sterling. He is the author of The Ideology of Religious Studies (2000), and, most recently, of Discourse on Civility and Barbarity: a critical history of religion and related categories (2007).

25 June 2009

Conference by Max Moerman, Professor at the  Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University, in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Demonology and Eroticism : Cartography and the Japanese Buddhist Imagination

The demonic female, an object of male anxiety and desire, has long been a stock character in Japanese Buddhist literature. It is also one that occupied specific locations in the history of Japanese cartography: Rasetsukoku, a dreaded island of female cannibals, and Nyōgogashima, a fabled isle of erotic fantasy. This presentation traces the appearance of these legendary realms of female isolation in tale literature, sutra illustration, popular fiction, and Japanese cartography from the 12th through the 19th century. By analyzing the persistence and transformation of these sites on maps of Japan, this presentation examines how the construction of Japanese identity relies on the mapping of the marginal. In doing so, it argues for the centrality of Buddhism to Japan's cartographic tradition and the importance of cartography in Japanese visual culture.

D. Max Moerman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University. His recent publications include Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan (Harvard, 2005); "The Archeology of Anxiety: An Underground History of Heian Religion" in Centers and Peripheries in Heian Japan (Hawaii, 2007); "Dying Like the Buddha: Intervisuality and the Cultic Image," Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America 28 (2007-2008); and Geographies of the Imagination: Buddhist Cosmology and the Japanese World Map, 1364-1865 (Harvard, forthcoming).

Discussant: Sherry Fowler is Associate Professor of Japanese Art History at University of Kansas. She is author of Murōji: Rearranging Art and History at a Japanese Buddhist Temple (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005) and various articles on Japanese Buddhist art.

23 April 2009

Conference by Robert Tierney, Assistant Professor in Japanese Literature at the Illinois University, Urbana Champaign and Visiting Professor at the Tsukuba University, in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Anthropology and Literature: The Colonial Journey of Satō Haruo

While Western scholars introduced the science of anthropology to Japan in the 1870s, Japanese scholars quickly "nationalized" this foreign science and brought it to bear on the aboriginal population of Taiwan, which quickly became the first overseas field in which they could work. As a genre of writing about primitive societies, anthropology offered a model that writers of fiction used to explore the cultures of exotic socities. The writer Satō Haruo traveled to Taiwan in 1920 and became acquainted with the anthropologist Mori Ushinosuke. In 1923, Satō wrote Machō (Demon Bird), a short work based on a passage in a book by Mori. The narrator of "Demon Bird" impersonates an anthropologist who is studying an episode of persecution in an unnamed barbarian village. At the same time, the story he tells is an allegory about Japanese persecution of Koreans during the Great Kanto Earthquake. "Demon Bird" is a story that uncovers unexpected links between colony and metropolis. The work is at once a deconstruction of colonial anthropology and an ethnographic critique of the Japanese empire.

Robert Tierney is Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Visiting Professor at the University of Tsukuba. His Tropics of Savagery, a study of Japanese colonial period literature, is forthcoming from the University of California Press.
Discutant : Nakagawa Shigemi is a Professor at Ritsumeikan University. His principal field of research is Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature with a special focus on modernity, gender and cultural studies

7 March 2009

Conference by Nicola Di Cosmo, Professor at the Luce Foundation (School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA), in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

A Contested Legacy: The Mongol Factor in the Manchu Conquest of China

The victorious Manchus entering Beijing in 1644 had come a long way from their remote abodes beyond the Willow Palisade and the Great Wall. How they managed to conquer China is still a matter of debate, but one element is widely recognized for having critically increased Manchu power, namely, the support they received from allied Mongol peoples. The Mongols gave the Manchus sturdy warriors, valuable material resources, and a trusted cohort of capable leaders that reached the very top of the Qing establishment. Yet the road to acquire Mongol support had been far less smooth than it appears in retrospective. This talk examines various sides of the process that enabled the Manchus to "conquer" the Mongols before the conquest of China. Looking at the political strategies, military confrontations, and legal history in pre-1644 Manchu-Mongol relations, it will illustrate a dimension of the Manchu conquest that is sometime taken for granted, under the assumption that the Mongols joined forces with the Manchus as part of a traditional "nomadic" process of unification. The study presented here is part of a broader effort to reposition the pre-conquest history of the Manchus within various local, regional, and global historical contexts.

Nicola Di Cosmo is the Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian Studies at the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, USA). He is currently in Japan as Visiting Professor at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. His main area of work is the history of the relations between China and Inner Asia from the ancient to the modern era, with special emphasis on the early and late imperial periods. Before joining the Institute for Advanced Study (2003) he has been a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, and has taught at Harvard University and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). He is the author of Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (2002); A Documentary History of Manchu-Mongol Relations (1616-1626) (2003); Diary of a Manchu Soldier in Seventeenth-Century China (2006). He has also edited several books. His most recent publication (edited) is Military Culture in Imperial China (January 2009).

26 February 2009

Conference by John Strong, Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of the Bates College, (Lewiston, Maine), in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

Miracles, Mango Trees and Ladders from Heaven: Reflections on the Tale of Prince Kala and on the Buddha's Descent from Trayastriṃśa

Western scholars who are inclined to demythologize the biography of the Buddha have often tended to dismiss the "supernatural" events featured in his traditional lifestory as nothing but pious embellishments. Yet tales of such "miracles" are often revelatory of the developing mindset and preoccupations of the Buddhist community, and deserve our close attention. Among the most important stories about "wonders" worked by theBuddha in Indian Buddhism, is the sequence of tales that starts with the various "miracles" he performs at Śrāvastī, segues into the account of the rains-retreat he spends preaching to his mother in the Trayastriṃśa Heaven, and ends with his descent from that heaven.
This talk will try to elucidate the significance of this sequence of tales, by exploring the ramifications of two simple questions: why does the story of the Buddha's miracle at Śrāvastī include a tale about King Prasenajit's brother, Prince Kāla? And why, having gotten up to heaven by supernatural means, does the Buddha need a ladder to come back down?

John Strong has taught at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (USA) since 1978, and is currently Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies there. Over the years, he has had visiting positions at Chicago, Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford. He is the author of several books, including The Legend of King Aśoka (Princeton, 1983); The Legend and Cult of Upagupta (Princeton, 1991); The Buddha: A Short Biography (OneWorld, 2001); and Relics of the Buddha (Princeton, 2004). He is currently working on traditions about "miracles" performed by the Buddha.

29 January 2009

Conference by Thomas Daniell, Architect and professor at the Seika University, Kyoto, research fellow at the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Lab (Melbourne), in the Kyoto Lectures series (EFEO / ISEAS) on the subject

From Far-East to Middle-East: Revitalizing Metabolism in Architectural and Urban Design

(en anglais). Cette conférence a été commentée par Benoît Jacquet.
The resemblance between Arata Isozaki's Qatar National Library (Doha, 2000-2) and his Clusters in the Air (Tokyo, 1960-2) project raises a number of issues relevant to regions currently undergoing intense urban development. The form of the library is a deliberate echo of Metabolism, the 1960s Japanese avant-garde movement with which Isozaki was peripherally involved. Responding to the phenomenal economic growth and concomitant urbanization that Japan underwent following the Second World War, the Metabolists advocated building forms that could fluctuate and grow in response to their environments. Although few nominally Metabolist designs were ever built in Japan, the underlying ideology and methodology had a significant influence in other countries, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. This presentation will examine the legacy of Metabolism and some recent attempts to revitalize Metabolist concepts in architectural and urban design.

Thomas Daniell is a practicing architect who has been based in Kyoto since the early 1990s. He holds a B.Arch with honors from Victoria University and an M.Eng from Kyoto University. He is currently an Associate Professor at Kyoto Seika University, a Visiting Fellow at the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Lab, editorial advisor for the Dutch publications Volume and Mark, and was previously on the editorial board of the Architectural Institute of Japan journal. He is author of FOBA: Buildings (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), After the Crash: Architecture in Post-Bubble Japan (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), and Kyoto Houses (Periplus Publishing, forthcoming).

Benoît Jacquet, architect and historian of architecture, is Maître de conferences at the Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient and Visiting Associate Professor at Kyoto University (Institute for Research in Humanities). He is currently the Head of the EFEO Centre in Kyoto.