[Conference] UBC: Buddhism and Business, Market and Merit: Intersections between Buddhism and Economics Past and Present (June 16-18, 2017)

Buddhism and economics is emerging as a significant field of scholarly inquiry. Having long ago abandoned the vision of Buddhist practitioners as recluses seeking individual soteriological ends at a remove from the “ordinary” world, students of history, philosophers, and specialists in the subdiscipline of Buddhist economics itself are helping us to understand the religion’s pervasive and continuing importance in this sphere. Aware of the multiplicity of forms Buddhist practice and belief have taken over time, historical and anthropological investigations of Buddhism have, for instance, shed much light on its active economic activities during different time periods and in different societies. Applying Buddhist insights to their own fields, students of economics and sociology have, at the same time, put forward alternative economic models that address major challenges facing our contemporary world.  There is much work being done on Buddhism’s intersections with economics across and outside of the academy and there is much to be learned in multidisciplinary conversations on this topic.

Seeking to promote this form of exchange, organizers of the “Market and Merit” conference to be held at the University of British Columbia from June 16-18, 2017, sponsored by UBC Buddhist Studies Forum and the newly funded multi-year, international and interdisciplinary SSHRC partnership project on Buddhism and East Asian Religions (www.frogbear.org), invite paper proposals addressing the ways that economic interests inform Buddhist practice and the ways Buddhism shapes economic activity. We welcome contributions from anthropologists, historians, philosophers, sociologists, textual scholars and experts in other fields whose work helps us to understand the religion’s contemporary situation, as well as its histories. Contributions can explore any aspect of the topic. Categories of exploration might include one or more of the following:

  • Applications and limitations of socioeconomic theory and method for understanding Buddhist activities and their outcomes;
  • Developments in the field of Buddhist Economics;
  • Economic interests at play in the creation of artifacts and other activities related to Buddhist arts;
  • Implications of Buddhist philosophy for economic practice;
  • Intersections between Buddhism, Economics, and Gender;
  • Links between Buddhism and entrepreneurial culture in East Asia;
  • Past and present roles of Buddhist economic practices in forging or disrupting transregional connections, especially those related to the so-called Silk Road and Book Road;
  • Ramifications of Buddhist activity for the environment;
  • Relationships between technological change and Buddhist practices such as merit-making;
  • Roles of monasteries and monastics in the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth; e.g., the Indian Mahayanist ideas and practices related to the so-called akṣayâkara (“Inexhaustible Treasure” 無盡藏), and the Cult of Three-Stage 三階教in Sui-Tang China;
  • Stories, histories, contemporary case studies that shed light on the ways Buddhism has served as an instrument of economic domination or force for equality.

This event is open to the public. Please register by sending a note of interest to frogbear.project@ubc.ca.




Please click here download a copy of the program.


The Six Patriarch temple in Sihui, Guangzhou
University of British Columbia Buddhist Studies Forum
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Friday, June 16, 2017              

15:00-16:00  Welcome and Keynote Address

15:05-15:45   Keynote Address

Gregory Schopen “The Business Model of Buddhist Monasticism”

15:45-16:00              Discussion

16:00-16:15               Tea / Coffee Break

16:15-18:30               Panel 1: Buddhist Economics: States of/in the Field

Choi Building Conference Room

(Chair: Leah Kalmanson)

1.1          16:15-16:30          Clair Brown, “Applications and Limitations of Socioeconomic  Theory and Method for Understanding Buddhist Activities and Their Outcomes”
1.2          16:30-16:45          Otto Chang, “Wisdom based economic theory as informed by Buddhism”
1.3          16:45-17:00          Barbra Clayton, “Gross National Happiness: Development  Economics and Bhutanese Buddhist Modernism”
1.4          17:00-17:15          Hudaya Kandahjaya, “Buddhism and Economy: How we got here and what comes next”
1.5          17:15-17:30          Juewei Shi, “Buddhist Merit in the West”

Comments 17:30-17:45 Jessica Main

Open Discussion 17:45-18:30

16:15-18:30               Panel 2: Stories and Cents

Asian Centre 604

(Chair: Yongshan He)

2.1          16:15-16:30         Susan Andrews, “Teaching Economic Practices and Beliefs: A Study of North American Buddhist Dharma School Curriculum”
2.2          16:30-16:45        Ben Brose, “Business and Pleasure: The Cult of Zhu Bajie in Modern Taiwan”
2.3          16:45-17:00        Phyllis Granoff, “How to make and spend money:  some stories from Indian classical literature”
2.4          17:00-17:15         Fabio Rambelli, “The Ideology of Wealth in the Japanese Buddhist Imaginary”
2.5          17:15-17:30         Matthew Mitchell, “When the Buddha loses your money: An examination of a failed Buddhist financial confraternity in nineteenth-century Japan”

Comments 17:30-17:45 Eugene Wang

Open Discussion 17:45-18:30

18:30                          Dinner


Saturday, June 17, 2017

9:00-9:45                   Student Roundtable Discussion

Choi Building Conference Room

As part of the three-day academic meeting, we are excited to hold a series of student roundtable discussions that will bring together upper-level undergraduate students and junior graduate students to explore the significance of scholarship in this emerging area of study. By inviting Canadian students to join us both for the conference and this series of short academic roundtable conversations, our aim is to promote meaningful student participation in the academic meeting. We also hope to facilitate the formation of academic connections between student-participants and peers and professors around the country and the world. To help achieve these ends, before the conference we will circulate a few important works in this area—including several conference papers—to guide our conversations at UBC. We encourage presenters to join us for one of these gatherings.

9:45-10:00               Coffee/Tea Break

10:00-12:00             Panel 3: Market Buddhism

Choi Building Conference Room

(Chair: Susan Andrews)

3.1          10:00-10:15          Kin Cheung, “What Does It Mean To Own Stock In A Famous Buddhist Mountain Tourism Company?
3.2          10:15-10:30          Christopher Emory-Moore, “Busy Buddhists: Monastic and Missionary Imperatives in a Marketized Buddhist Movement”
3.3          10:30-10:45       Jessica Main, “Religious Economies in Modern Japan: Shin Buddhist Financial Ventures.”
Comments 10:45-11:00   Jamie Hubbard

Open Discussion 11:00-12:00

10:00-12:00               Panel 4: Intertwined Histories: Buddhism and Economics I

Asian Centre 604

(Chair: Phyllis Granoff)

4.1          10:00-10:15         Tatsuhiko Seo, “Buddhism and Commerce in 9th century Chang’an: A study of Ennin’s Nittō Guhō Junrei.”
4.2          10:15-10:30          Koichi Shinohara, “Worldly Morality in the medieval Chinese  Buddhist anthology Fayuan Zhulin
4.3          10:30-10:45          Zeng Yang, “The Mobilizer of Monks and Money: Integrating and Institutionalizing Buddhist Missions”

Comments 10:45-11:00 Ben Brose

Open Discussion 11:00-12:00

12:00-13:00               Lunch

13:00- 15:00             Panel 5: Reshaping Religion: Economic Forces and the Contemporary Religious Landscape

Choi Building Conference Room

(Chair: Kin Cheung)

5.1          13:00-13:15          Weishan Huang, “Buddhist Gentrification and Urban Renewal – the case studies of Han Buddhist temples in Shanghai
5.2          13:15-13:30          Paulina Kolata, “Economics of goen (ご縁, a relationship/tie) – How much does it cost to be a Buddhist in contemporary Japan?”
5.3          13:30-13:45         Cameron Penwell, “Buddhist Responses to the “Labor Question” in Early-Twentieth Century Japan”
5.4          13:45-14:00         Julie Remoiville, “Engagement of Official Buddhist Monasteries within Modernity through Economic and Tourism developments in Contemporary urban China: Case study in Hangzhou”

Comments 14:00-14:15 Rongdao Lai

Open Discussion 14:15-15:00

13:00- 15:00             Panel 6: Intertwined Histories: Buddhism and Economics II

Asian Centre 604

(Chair: Jinhua Chen)

6.1          13:00-13:15          Philip Hsu, “Merit and Money in Late Ming Buddhist Society: Yunqi Zhuhong’s Perspective”
6.2          13:15-13:30          Cuilan Liu, “When an Imposter becomes the Victim in a Collective Fraud: A Case Study of the Economics of Merit-Making in Dunhuang from a Legal Perspective”
6.3          13:30-13:45          Dewei Zhang, “Done and Undone: A Revisiting of Buddhist Monastic Economy in Early Ming China”

Comments 13:45-14:00        Susan Andrews

Open Discussion 14:00-15:00

15:00-16:00               Student Roundtable Discussion

Choi Building Conference Room

16:00-16:45               Keynote Address 2

Eugene Wang, “How Did a Woman Acquire the Heavenly Eye?” 

16:45-17:00               Discussion

18:00                          Dinner


Sunday, June 18, 2017

9:00-9:45                   Student Roundtable Discussion

Choi Building Conference Room

9:45-10:00                 Coffee/Tea

10:00-12:00               Panel 7: Intertwined Histories: Buddhism and Economics III

Choi Building Conference Room

(Chair: Barbra Clayton)

7.1          10:00-10:15          Caleb Carter, “Religious Plurality Makes Cents: The Economics Behind a Hybrid Tendai Mountain in Early Modern Japan”
7.2          10:15-10:30          Elzyata Kuberlinova, “Between Buddha and Tsar: Kalmyk Buddhist Economic Practices in Nineteenth Century Russia”
7.3          10:30-10:45          Rongdao Lai, “Performing Buddha-Work in Red Dust: Post-War Monastic Economy in Hong Kong”
7.4          10:45-11:00          Gregory Adam Scott, “Fund-raising, Merit-making, and Reconstructing Buddhist Monasteries in Modern China”

Comments 11:00-11:15        Barbra Clayton

Open Discussion 11:15-12:00

10:00-12:00               Panel 8: Intertwined Histories: Buddhism and Economics IV

Asian Centre 604

(Chair: Jamie Hubbard)

8.1          10:00-10:15          Adam C. Krug, “Internal, Threshold, and External Economy: Toward an Economic Model for Early Buddhist Monasticism in India”
8.2          10:15-10:30          Matthew D. Milligan, “‘Bootstrapping’ the Early Saṁgha: An Economic Model for the Formation of Indian Buddhism Outside Magadha”
8.3          10:30-10:45          Sasaki Shizuka, “Business Management Systems, Buddhist Management Systems: A Study of Key Monastic Regulations”

Comments 10:45-11:00 Gregory Schopen

Open Discussion 11:00-12:00

12:00-13:00   Lunch

13:00-15:30               Panel 9: The Inexhaustible Storehouse

Choi Building Conference Room

(Chair: Dewei Zhang)

9.1          13:00-13:15          Jinhua Chen, “The Monastic Financial and Banking system (Wujinzang) under the Rule of Emperor Liang Wudi: Background in India and Impact on Sui-Tang China”
9.2          13:15-13:30          Jamie Hubbard, “Chinese Buddhist Social Welfare: The Inexhaustible Storehouse of the Sanjie Movement”
9.3          13:30-13:45          Leah Kalmanson, “Lessons from the Sanjie: Merit Economies as Drivers of Social Change”
9.4           13:45-14:00     Neil Schmid, “Giving while Keeping: Inexhaustible Treasuries and Inalienable Wealth”
9.5          14:00-14:15        Zong Zhang, ““Inexhaustible Storehouse” and Monasteries of the “Three Stage Movement” during the Sui and Tang Dynasties”

Comments 14:15-14:30        Cuilan Liu

Open Discussion 14:30-15:30

13:00-15:30               Panel 10: Material and Visual Culture and Buddhist Economies

Asian Centre 604

(Chair: Fabio Rambelli)

10.1        13:00-13:15        Hannah Gould, “Manufacturing merit: Crisis and innovation in the Japanese Buddhist altar industry”
10.2        13:15-13:30          Yongshan He, “Buddhist Statues on the Market: Producing, Selling and Banning of Religious Artifacts in the Tang”
10.3        13:30-13:45         Nicolas Morrissey, “For Merit and for Profit: Observations on the Economics of Image Donation and Ritual Service in Early Medieval Indian Buddhist Monasticism”
10.4        13:45-14:00         Francesca Tarocco, “The Buddhist Lives of Chinese Artists: Practice, Personhood and Religious Materiality in Post-secular China”
Comments 14:00-14:15        Gregory Scott

Open Discussion 14:15-15:15

15:30-15:45   Coffee/Tea Break

15:45-16:15               Final Student Roundtable Discussion

Choi Building Conference Room

18:00  Dinner

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