Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies

The Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies brings together researchers and stakeholders who are engaged in understanding contemporary processes that impact the manner in which Buddhism is practiced and understood today.

Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies
© Trine Brox

While there are many scholars working on Buddhism in contemporary contexts worldwide, very few research centres have been established to concentrate and pool together resources for approaching the study of contemporary Buddhism. At the Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies we aim to bring scholars together to create a fruitful academic environment that furthers research and interest in the field of Contemporary Buddhism.

We hope to reinforce research in Contemporary Buddhism with the viability of this research becoming strengthened and more visible through connecting through a larger network of scholars and others interested in Contemporary Buddhism. In this way we hope to create a supportive environment towards which scholars and others can turn towards and consult with affiliated scholars for expertise and support. 

The Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies is an ideal location for the Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, since it is also home to an integrated academic environment for the inter-disciplinary study of religion and the study of Asian languages and cultures. Visit our blog

WASTE: Consumption and Buddhism in the age of garbage

The collaborative international research project WASTE draws attention to the global waste crisis by investigating the waste output attendant to Buddhism, a religion that is often portrayed as anti-materialist.

Funding: the Velux Foundations
PI: Associate professor Dr. Trine Brox
Project period: September 2021 - September 2025

Photo by Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko, Mongolia

This project investigates Buddhist waste, that is, waste produced through Buddhist practices to which Buddhists ascribe affective qualities, moral connections, or religious significance. It investigates Buddhist consumption practices, waste imaginaries, and waste trajectories asking: how do Buddhists define and sort waste from non-waste? What are the effects of increased co

nsumption and waste production on the cultural practices, environment, social relations, rituals and customs in Buddhist contexts? The project argues that the perceptions and practices concerned with consumption and the varied afterlives of consumed items are crucial for understanding contemporary Buddhism. More broadly, the project aims to understand the importance and role of religion in the generation and interpretation of waste.

The project integrates a targeted set of micro-studies through the application of three research focuses: waste regimes, value(s), and affect, that will be developed in six ethnographic studies:

  •  Jørn Borup will look at the electronic remains in Japanese Buddhism in his research on Waste and the ‘spirit of technology’.  
  • Beata Świtek takes rotting gifts under scrutiny in her study of Edible discards: The materiality of food offerings.
  • Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko investigates impermanence in the research On Vital Things and Mildewed Matter: Mongolian Buddhist Encounters with Impermanence and Decay.  
  • Kristina Jonutytė focuses on ecological degradation, among others, in her ethnographic study Consumption, discard, and identity in Siberian Buddhism.  
  • The PI, Trine Brox, will study valuable waste in the Tibetan cultural sphere in the form of The afterlife of Buddhist material objects.
  • A PhD-fellow will study littered sacred sites in the project The environmental footprint of Buddhist pilgrimage. The PhD-fellow will join the project in the spring of 2022. 

Buddhism, Business and Believers

Contact associate professor Trine Brox.

'Tibetan monk holding money' by Wonderlane (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4284011682)The objective of the collaborative research project Buddhism, Business and Believers is to inquire into contemporary relations between business and Buddhism through bridging language-based area studies, religious studies, anthropology and economics. The aim is to gain novel insights into the manner that Buddhism mediates value within the exchanges of materiality and spirituality, opening up a new field of research approaching the correlation between religion and economics through triangulating the concepts of exchange, value and materiality.

The aim is to explore how Buddhism as an emic concept is employed within the various contexts in which religious goods and services are bought and sold while paying attention to possible contradictions, contentions and contentment with Buddhist economic activity.

We focus on how Buddhism mediates distinctions between virtue and value, spirituality and materiality, gifts and commodities – and therefore also subscribes meaning to objects, actions and human relations: How does ‘Buddhism’ mediate value and meaning through economic exchanges? In other words: When are economic practices deemed ‘Buddhist’ and how does this contribute to the legitimacy and value of the people involved, the objects traded and the spiritual spaces where economic activities take place?

The international collaborative research project Buddhism, Business and Believers is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities (2015 - 2020).

Additionally, the Carlsberg Foundation has granted funding towards a two-year postdoc position (2015 - 2018).

Wealth, Virtue and Social Justice 

Contact postdoc Jane Eluned Caple

Contact

The centre can be contacted at:
ccbs@hum.ku.dk

You are also welcome to contact the director:
Associate professor Trine Brox
trinebrox@hum.ku.dk 

or the co-director:
Postdoc Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg
elizabeth.oerberg@hum.ku.dk.

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Researchers 

Name Title Job responsibilities Phone E-mail
Abrahms-Kavunenko, Saskia Adelle Marie Curie Fellow Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies   E-mail
Brox, Trine Associate Professor, Deputy Head of Department Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies +4551302965 E-mail
Cho, Yasmin Marie Curie Fellow Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Studies   E-mail
Switek, Beata Assistant Professor - Tenure Track Japanese Studies +4550207655 E-mail