Buddhist Apologetics in East Asia

Countering the Neo-Confucian Critiques in the Hufa lun and the Yusŏk chirŭi non


Uri Kaplan

While the Neo-Confucian critique of Buddhism is fairly well-known, little attention has been given to the Buddhist reactions to this harangue. The fact is, however, that over a dozen apologetic essays have been written by Buddhists in China, Korea, and Japan in response to the Neo-Confucians. Buddhist Apologetics in East Asia offers an introduction to this Buddhist literary genre. It centers on full translations of two dominant apologetic works—the Hufa lun (護法論), written by a Buddhist politician in twelfth-century China, and the Yusŏk chirŭi non (儒釋質疑論), authored by an anonymous monk in fifteenth-century Korea. Put together, these two texts demonstrate the wide variety of polemical strategies and the cross-national intertextuality of East Asian Buddhist apologetics.


Edited by William A. McGrath

Knowledge and Context in Tibetan Medicine is a collection of ten essays in which a team of international scholars describe and interpret Tibetan medical knowledge. With subjects ranging from the relationship between Tibetan and Greco-Arab conceptions of the bodily humors, to the rebranding of Tibetan precious pills for cross-cultural consumption in the People’s Republic of China, each chapter explores representations and transformations of medical concepts across different historical, cultural, and/or intellectual contexts. Taken together this volume offers new perspectives on both well-known Tibetan medical texts and previously unstudied sources, blazing new trails and expanding the scope of the academic study of Tibetan medicine.
Contributors include: Henk W.A. Blezer, Yang Ga, Tony Chui, Katharina Sabernig, Tawni Tidwell, Tsering Samdrup, Carmen Simioli, William A. McGrath, Susannah Deane and Barbara Gerke

Yali Chen

This article argues that Chinese female migrants in Switzerland exert their agency to become the subject responsible for the care practices for their families in both Switzerland and China during their post-migratory lives. Based on fieldwork comprising 52 semi-structured interviews conducted with Chinese female migrants in Switzerland during 2016 and 2017, this article analyses the strategies Chinese female migrants develop to ensure their social role as woman, migrant, wife, mother, and daughter. Their self-development is also realized through the adjustment of their opinions about their roles and lives within household activities in Switzerland, and their strategies for making sense of the transnational parental care practice by overcoming difficulties induced by different social power relations during their post-migratory life from a gendered perspective.

Hsin-lun Yu and Yinghua Bao

This paper investigates the ways in which the concept of “family” was reshaped, during the process of modern capitalization, among Evenki hunters under the state power of China from the seventeenth century onward. By doing so, it attempts to illustrate two things: one is to depict the trajectory how the Evenki traditional family commune system was regulated into the state power of the Qing Dynasty and modern nation-state of China; second, it aims to argue further that, contrary to the general understanding that regards the practice of socialism in 1950s China as an attempt to de-capitalize private property of the family, in Evenki society, it is through the practice of socialism that the concept of private property was established.

The fieldwork was conducted between 2015 and 2016 in Giden village, the only hunting tribe within the Evenki Autonomous Banner/Country, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, in north-eastern China. Through articulating historical documents and a field survey of 24 veteran hunters, this paper attempts to develop an understanding of how traditional Evenki culture was engaged with the practice of modernization under state power and then changed the formation of family in family commune society.

Stinky Tofu and Smelly Cheese

Food and Identity in Taiwanese-Foreign Couples’ Conversations

Yvonne Chi

This paper investigates how multilingual couples with different languages and cultural backgrounds construct their identities through their conversations about food from a socio-cultural perspective. It is based on the interviews, observations, and naturally-occurring conversations between three multilingual couples. The participants consist of Taiwanese nationals, and their foreign partners (Irish, Italian, and South-African) living in England. In order to understand such talk in interaction, the study takes an interactional sociolinguistic approach to analyze how their discourse identities are performed. The study attempts to provide a better understanding of multilingual couples’ interaction in food and identity contexts through a microanalysis of the sequential turns. The analysis demonstrates how the three Taiwanese-foreign couples use different discourse strategies to negotiate and share their different attitudes, preferences, cultural values and identities during conversations about food.

The Unspoken Dilemma of Expat Wives

Gender Roles and Relations within Taiwanese Expatriate Families in Singapore

Chia-Yuan Huang

The majority of Taiwanese expatriates in Singapore are working in male-dominated sectors such as high-tech industries. It is common for Taiwanese male expatriates to choose to bring their family members along to the host country. In order to accompany their husbands to Singapore, these expatriate wives must give up their careers in Taiwan. Some of them become stay-at-home wives while others seek to rebuild their careers in Singapore. This study investigates how Taiwanese expatriate wives juggle their work and family commitments and identifies how they negotiate gender-role expectations relating to both family and work. The results show that this group of highly qualified Taiwanese women who have a history of strong professional achievement and have levels of human capital similar to their husbands still have not managed to break the shackles of traditional gender roles. Instead of advancing their own careers, they are expected to put their husbands’ careers first.


Carmen Simioli


This paper intends to historically and conceptually analyze selected pre-modern Tibetan sources, outlining the medical and religious descriptions of a hybrid class of diseases called nyenné (gnyan nad) and rimné (rims nad). Among these sources, this essay focuses primarily on the diagnostic and ritual sections of the Great Vase of the Amṛta of Immortality (’chi med bdud rtsi bum chen). This Nyingma “treasure text” (gter ma) is representative of the magic-alchemical tradition that became an integral constituent of scholastic medical literature in Tibet from the thirteenth century onwards. Drawing on the contents of the Vase of Amṛta, the paper aims at situating this medical-oriented text in the broader context of Tibetan medical and tantric literatures.


Susannah Deane


This paper examines some of the ways in which spirits and deities may be involved in mental illness in ethnically Tibetan contexts, resulting in symptoms such as confusion, aggression, and even madness. Whilst some such entities are discussed in the seminal Tibetan medical text, the Four Tantras (rgyud bzhi), in reality, Tibetan medical specialists are often not the first port of call for afflicted individuals and their families. Instead, lay Tibetans often describe ritual specialists as the best practitioners to consult, due to the “spiritual power” they are understood to possess, an understanding which reflects some long-standing beliefs about spirits and their relationship with Buddhism. However, in a contemporary Tibetan community, where such practitioners may no longer be available, we hear of afflicted individuals and their families often consulting a variety of medical and religious specialists from different traditions. Here I describe two narratives of spirit-caused illness in Darjeeling, India, which illustrate some enduring perspectives on spirits and their ability to cause illness, and explore some perspectives on related healing modalities within this community.


Barbara Gerke


This chapter explores how the pharmaceuticalization of Sowa Rigpa has affected the material representations of Tibetan precious pills (rin chen ril bu). With the example of a translated leaflet of the precious pill “Jikmé’s Old Turquoise-70” (’jigs med g.yu rnying bdun cu), made in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), I analyze how the current trend towards an expanding pharmaceuticalization of precious pills reflects in their material representation and specific instructions offered in bi- or tri-lingual leaflets. I show that in the PRC Sowa Rigpa’s specific terminology and disease etiologies are largely sidelined while catering to a Chinese-speaking patient and consumer clientele, whereas in India we find elements from Buddhism and Tibetan identity integrated in the presentation and packaging of precious pills. Each serves the commodification of precious pills, but in different ways. I also highlight how the commodification and over-the-counter sales of precious pills, found largely in the PRC but also at certain clinics in India, might easily lead to their misuse.