The End(s) of Compassion? Buddhist Charity and the State in Taiwan

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Talk by Julia Huang, National Tsing Hua University

Thursday, October 16, 2014
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Bunche Hall 10383

Part of the Civility and Civil Society in Taiwan Lecture Series

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi (Ciji) Foundation is perhaps one of the largest Buddhist charities in the Chinese world today. This paper traces how Tzu Chi developed under the regime of civic morality in Taiwan. The same regime also contributed to the recent controversy between Tzu Chi and the Aborigines. This paper raises the question whether this represents the end of compassion.

C. Julia Huang is a Professor of Anthropology at National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University. Huang has published articles in the Journal of Asian Studies, Ethnology, Positions, Nova Religio, the Eastern Buddhist, and the European Journal for East Asian Studies. Her book, Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement (Harvard University Press, 2009) is an ethnography of a lay Buddhist movement that began as a tiny group in Taiwan and grew into an organization with ten million membership worldwide. Based on fieldwork in Taiwan and its overseas branches in Malaysia and the United States, Charisma and Compassion offers a vivid ethnography that examines the movement’s organization, its relationship with NGOs and humanitarian organizations, and the nature of its Buddhist transnationalism, which is global in scope and local in practice. The successful blending of charisma and compassion and the personal relationship between leader and devotee are what define the movement.

Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies, Center for Chinese Studies

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Published: Monday, October 20, 2014