Chia’s talk will reconsider Kuah-Pearce’s concept of “reformist Buddhism” through the case of Yen Pei. He argues for the need to historicize “reformist Buddhism” in the Singapore context and to consider the Buddhist networks linking multiple nodes that circulated people, ideas, practices, and money between China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and beyond. In addition, he will demonstrate that a study of the transnational biography of Yen Pei is a fine example of how an individual life, examined in grainy detail, can offer insights into Buddhism and modernity in Asia. At a broader level, the case of Yen Pei reveals how Singapore’s Buddhist history was intertwined with the larger history of the modernization and globalization of Chinese-language Buddhism in the twentieth century.
Speaker: Jack Meng-Tat Chia, PhD Candidate, History, Cornell University