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The Organization of Distance

Poetry, Translation, Chineseness

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Lucas Klein

What makes a Chinese poem “Chinese”? Some call modern Chinese poetry insufficiently Chinese, saying it is so influenced by foreign texts that it has lost the essence of Chinese culture as known in premodern poetry. Yet that argument overlooks how premodern regulated verse was itself created in imitation of foreign poetics. Looking at Bian Zhilin and Yang Lian in the twentieth century alongside medieval Chinese poets such as Wang Wei, Du Fu, and Li Shangyin, The Organization of Distance applies the notions of foreignization and nativization to Chinese poetry to argue that the impression of poetic Chineseness has long been a product of translation, from forces both abroad and in the past.

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Jim Glassman

In Drums of War, Drums of Development, Jim Glassman analyses the geopolitical economy of industrial development in East and Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era, showing how it was shaped by the collaborative planning of US and Asian elites. Challenging both neo-liberal and neo-Weberian accounts of East Asian development, Glassman offers evidence that the growth of industry (the “East Asian miracle”) was deeply affected by the geopolitics of war and military spending (the “East Asian massacres”). Thus, while Asian industrial development has been presented as providing models for emulation, Glassman cautions that this industrial dynamism was a product of Pacific ruling class manoeuvring which left a contradictory legacy of rapid growth, death, and ongoing challenges for development and democracy.
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Receptions of Greek and Roman Antiquity in East Asia is an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and global effort to examine the receptions of the Western Classical tradition in a cross-cultural context. The inclusion of modern East Asia in Classical reception studies not only allows scholars in the field to expand the scope of their scholarly inquiries but will also become a vital step toward transcending the meaning of Greco-Roman tradition into a common legacy for all of human society.
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Memory is not an inert container but a dynamic process. It can be structured by ritual, constrained by textual genre, and shaped by communities’ expectations and reception. Urging a particular view of the past on readers is a complex rhetorical act. The collective reception of portrayals of the past often carries weighty implications for the present and future. The essays collected in this volume investigate various aspects of memory in medieval China (ca. 100-900 CE) as performed in various genres of writing, from poetry to anecdotes, from history to tomb epitaphs. They illuminate ways in which the memory of individual persons, events, dynasties, and literary styles was constructed and revised through processes of writing and reading.
Contributors include: Sarah M. Allen, Robert Ashmore, Robert Ford Campany, Jack W. Chen, Alexei Ditter, Meow Hui Goh, Christopher M. B. Nugent, Xiaofei Tian, Wendy Swartz, Ping Wang.
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Encounters, networks, identities and diversity are at the core of the history of Buddhism. They are also the focus of Buddhist Encounters and Identities across East Asia, edited by Ann Heirman, Carmen Meinert and Christoph Anderl. While long-distance networks allowed Buddhist ideas to travel to all parts of East Asia, it was through local and trans-local networks and encounters, and a diversity of people and societies, that identities were made and negotiated. This book undertakes a detailed examination of discrete Buddhist identities rooted in unique cultural practices, beliefs and indigenous socio-political conditions. Moreover, it presents a fascinating picture of the intricacies of the regional and cross-regional networks that connected South and East Asia.
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Max Deeg

This paper draws on Antonino Forte’s notion of a borderland complex and on the concept of the ‘double belonging’ of Chinese Buddhists in the medieval period. This was caused by the fact that Middle Kingdom China was not the centre of Buddhist cosmology. Indeed, it was not part of the Buddhist sacred realm at all. Nowhere can one observe this struggle better than in the so-called pilgrims’ records, in which the protagonists are, quite often, negotiating a dual cultural identity; they are both part of greater Chinese culture and express a sense of religious belonging to—and presence in—a Sacred Land that lays claim to cosmological and soteriological superiority over all the other regions in the world. The conflict that arose from this conflict of identities is expressed in the texts in the form of poems and narratives reflecting either homesickness or determination to stay in India (or both). The paper will present and address the different forms of expression of these identities and analyse them in the wider context of Chinese and Indian Buddhism.

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Bryan Levman

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This article examines the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings from India to China through the lens of the dhāraṇīs of the Lotus Sutra. Kumārajīva was the first Chinese translator to undertake a transliteration of the dhāraṇīs that attempted to retain their ritual efficacy for Chinese Buddhists. His source text was Prakritic in nature and shown to be centuries earlier than the Sanskrit MSS that have survived. The transmission of the buddhadharma from India to China was a highly complex process with dozens of human, temporal, spatial, dialectal, scribal, psychological and phonological variables, making it impossible to transmit the teachings error free. Although it is impossible to unravel the complex transmission history, a study of the dhāraṇis opens a unique window on the exchange of information between India and China in the early centuries of the common era and the interaction of two very different cultural and linguistic environments.

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Volume editor: Ann Heirman, Carmen Meinert and Christoph Anderl

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Steven Trenson

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This chapter discusses the basic characteristics and historical formation of the combination of the deities Fudō Myōō 不動明王 (Skt. Acala[-nātha] Vidyārāja) and Aizen’ō 愛染王 (Skt. Rāgarāja) in Shingon 真言 esoteric Buddhism. In medieval Japan, various beliefs and practices were established in Shingon, in particular in the Ono 小野 branch of the tradition, which centred on these two deities. Their cult eventually came to constitute one of the most important elements marking the identity of Shingon esotericism, but little is known about how the Fudō-Aizen combination was initially formed. Traditionally, scholars have emphasized that the cult was created in Japan. The present chapter, however, aims to expand this view by looking at the issue from the standpoint of two different intersecting networks, a ‘translocal’ human network stretching between China and Japan and a ‘local’ conceptual network of ideas and practices developed in Shingon. In other words, it argues that the Fudō-Aizen combination became one of the hallmarks of medieval Shingon through the combined result of two factors, one being the translocal dissemination of Chinese esoteric Buddhist doctrines to Japan, and the other a specific, local ritual development within the Ono branch of Shingon.

Concretely, the chapter highlights two important clues to investigate the formation of the Fudō-Aizen combination in Shingon. The first clue is the composition of the ‘Aizen Mandala’ 愛染曼荼羅 said to have been brought to Japan from China by the Tendai 天台 monk Enchin 円珍 (814–891), but which circulated among both Tendai and Shingon circles in the medieval era. In this regard, it is argued that the notion of Fudō-Aizen must have been part of the knowledge of the Buddhist intellectual circles that produced the Aizen Mandala and that its origin might therefore ultimately lie in China. The second clue concerns the Rain Prayer Sutra ritual (Shōugyōhō 請雨経法), one of the earliest ritual practices of the Ono branch of Shingon which involved a meditation on Fudō and Aizen. With respect to this ritual it is shown that its structure was actually based on key notions found in the Yuqi jing 瑜祇経, an important Chinese scripture brought to Japan in the early ninth century. In this way, the chapter contends that the Fudō-Aizen cult was initially formed in Shingon as the result of integrating esoteric beliefs transmitted translocally from China to Japan into the local, conceptual network of rainmaking.

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Pei-ying Lin

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Shōtoku Taishi 聖徳太子 (Prince Shōtoku, 573–621) has stimulated the longstanding interest of modern scholars. The cult of Shōtoku Taishi was a far-reaching movement across Japan throughout several centuries, and the belief that he was Huisi’s慧思 (515–577) reincarnation is an important element in his extensive cult in the Buddhist world. This paper focuses on the connection between the Japanese prince and the legend cycles of the Chinese patriarch Huisi from the eighth century onwards. In particular, this paper discusses the networks of authors of this reincarnation story, namely Du Fei 杜朏 (c. 710–720), Jianzhen 鑑真 (688–763), Situo 思託 (722–809), Saichō 最澄 (767–822) and Kōjō 光定 (779–858). The self-definition of these authors involves how Buddhist monks located themselves in a broader context of East Asian Buddhism. It is concluded that the reincarnation legend reveals the authors’ motives with respect to rearranging the association between China and Japan. Their self-definition matured as the reincarnation story developed into a mature form.