Call for Papers: Buddhist Perspectives on the Work of Care (May 9th – 10th)

“Buddhist Perspectives on the Work of Care”

UBC’s Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program, funded by The Tung Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation, will hold a workshop on Buddhist perspectives on the work of care May 9-10, 2014 at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus.

22 Suzhou 005

  • Abstract and short biography submission deadline:  March 28, 2014
  • Workshop weekend:  May 9-10, 2014
  • Papers due:  April 25, 2014

The program committee welcomes proposals for papers from academics, professionals, and graduate students interested by the influence of Buddhism on the work of care. The workshop will serve as the foundation for an edited volume or a special issue on that topic in a peer-reviewed journal.

The commodification of the work of care in the Asia-Pacific is emerging as one of the main trends in the region, as populations are aging and the structure of a constantly changing workforce exert increasing pressure on families, gender relations, and migration patterns which altogether have upset traditional modes of care-giving often centered on the household. In Japan and the other post-industrial economies of East Asia, the rapid aging of the population has brought tremendous pressure on the public provision of health care and generated demand for the immigration of care providers to offset gaps in the workforce. In China, the government has responded to the lack of a robust social security with many measures, including the revitalization of family-based care provision. In this broad context, Buddhist institutions have emerged as important providers of social service, especially in long term and end-of-life care. In a broader social context in which gender inequalities in the work force remain rife, Buddhist women play a disproportionate role as providers of care, as lay volunteers but also as nuns.

Buddhist lay associations such as the Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan and the Tung Lin Kok Yuen Foundation in Hong Kong have emerged as important actors in the provision of care, with a special emphasis in long term care and end-of-life care, whether by running their own network of accredited general hospitals, like Tzu Chi, or supporting financial institutions for the aged and for mental rehabilitation, like the Tung Lin Kok Yuen Foundation. Even in China, the state is expecting Buddhist institutions to provide relief in crisis situations, and monks are increasingly acting as counselors for people in dire circumstances. In Thailand, where Buddhism is the religion of the majority and where temples used to be major providers of care, they remain last resort option and sources of support for HIV/AIDS victims. In Japan, where the Soka Gakkai is involved in governance in its position in the coalition government, Buddhism stands in a position to shape public policy on care. Yet, very little is known about the viability of Buddhist institutions as actors in the work of care, or about the views of Buddhist Sanghas on caring, beyond these anecdotal evidences. Our workshop seeks to take stock and assess how much Buddhist institutions contribute to the welfare mix of social policies, in particular with respect to the work of care.

How to submit an abstract:

Our workshop explores a series of question in relation to these trends, in relation to Buddhism, gender, and the work of care. It welcomes scholars in Buddhist studies, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and history. Questions that will be explored included, but are not limited, to the follow:

  • How sustainable is that approach as a palliative, if not as an alternative to the approaches relying on family-based care?
  • Buddhist perspectives on the idea of care generally, or the idea of long-term and end-of-life care more specifically
  • Debates over the role of Buddhist institutions, lay or monastic, as a provider of care
  • Buddhism and gendered division of labour
  • Differences between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions on the issue of care

Applicants can submit both their proposal and a short academic CV to Andre Laliberte, Visiting Professor and Chair of the Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program at: andre.laliberte@uottawa.ca, with the subject head: workshop on Buddhism and the work of care.

The deadline for submissions is Friday March 28, 2014. Participants will be notified by April 4th if their submission has been successful.

This workshop is generously supported by an endowment for the Program on Buddhism and Contemporary Society at The University of British Columbia, made possible by the Tung Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation.

Questions about this event may be addressed to Andre Laliberte at andre.laliberte@uottawa.ca, with the subject head: workshop on Buddhism and the work of care.

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