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From Enchanted to Re-enchanted: Trajectories of Vietnamese Buddhism in a Post-modern World

October 5, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Royce 243,

Sponsored by the UCLA Center for Buddhist Studies. It is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Buddhist modernity has often taken on the form of a secularized, rationalist and democratic Buddhism that accentuates meditative techniques and a focus on psychology and salvation attained through individual endeavor. Non-rational, devotional, forms of Buddhism have, at least rhetorically, been painted as pre-modern, backwards or superstition. Echoing the now debunked secularization theory of religion – that religion will diminish and be replaced by science – it has been assumed that the modernization of Buddhism would displace devotional forms of Buddhism with this rational and humanistic form of Buddhist modernism. This theory is now demonstrably proven false in many places, but especially in Vietnam where there has been a resurgence of interest in devotional forms of Buddhism, which focus on supernatural assistance in daily life and the potency of some monks to tell the future and alter fates (in essence, the denying the secular division between the mundane and supernatural.) Professor Alexander Soucy (Saint Mary’s University), will posit that this is not a persistence nor resurgence of the pre-modern, but instead needs to be understood as something new – as much owing to the structures and assumptions of modernity as to the power of the enchanted past.

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Alexander Soucy is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, Canada). His first monograph, The Buddha Side: Gender, Power and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam (2012) is the only English-language ethnography of Vietnamese Buddhism. He has co-edited two volumes on Buddhism in Canada, Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada (2010) and Flowers on the Rock: Global and Local Buddhisms in Canada (2014), and a volume on Buddhism and globalization, called Buddhism in the Global Eye: Beyond East and West. He has published a number of essays on Vietnamese Buddhism in Vietnam and in the West.


October 5, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Royce 243