CfP: International conference “Diverse Lives: Narratives of Śākyamuni Buddha in Text and Image” (Royal Museum of Mariemont)

Date of event:   29/02/2024 − 29/02/2024

Title: Diverse Lives: Narratives of Śākyamuni Buddha in Text and Image
Format: In-person
Conference duration: 16-19 October 2024
Deadline: 29 February 2024
Organized by: Museum of Mariemont and the Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies of Ghent University
Location: Royal Museum of Mariemont, Morlanwelz, Belgium

The founding figure of Buddhism, Śākyamuni Buddha, has played an enormously important role for South and East Asian – and more recently also Western – cultures and societies. However, there is no authoritative biographic account which would be accepted by the multitude of Buddhist traditions. On the contrary, the stories concerning Śākyamuni’s life are as diverse as the doctrinal and rituals systems found in the various regions and schools of Asian Buddhism. In this context of the lack of cross-regionally and inter-sectarian accepted textual and visual sources, even key events of Buddha’s life have undergone countless interpretations in textual and visual media in the course of Buddhism’s geographical spread and doctrinal diversification.

We invite speakers to present studies which for example focus on geographically localized adaptations of Buddha’s life – both based on visual and textual sources; variations we find in the texts and manuscripts composed in the various languages along the Silk Road and beyond; hybrid accounts of Buddha’s life which incorporate elements drawn from other traditions or cultural contexts; the way Buddha’s life is interpreted in contemporary media; as well as Western interpretations of Buddha’s life stories. There are no limitations concerning the temporal or geographical framework.

The International in-person conference is scheduled for 16-19 October 2024 at the Royal Museum of Mariemont, Belgium. This event is organised, in collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies of Ghent University, at the occasion of the exhibition “Buddha. Experiencing the Sensible” (September 21st, 2024 – April 20th, 2025).

Interested participants should submit a 300-word proposal and a short biography (maximum 200 words) as a single Word document to by February 29th, 2024. The language of presentation will be English. Selected speakers will be notified by the end of March 2024.

Transport to and from hotels nearby the conference venue will be provided by the organising institutions.

Keynote speaker: Bernard Faure, Director of the Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religions, Columbia University, Kao Professor of Japanese Religion, Columbia University, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University

Conference organisers:

  • Ann Heirman, Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures, Professor of Chinese Language and
  • Culture, Director of the Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University
  • Christoph Anderl, Professor of Chinese Language and Culture, Department of Languages and Cultures, Ghent University
  • Lyce Jankowski, Curator of extra-European Art, Domain & Royal Museum of Mariemont
  • Max Deeg, Professor in Buddhist Studies, Cardiff University
  • Neil Schmid, Research Professor, Dunhuang Research Academy

The Conference is co-organized by the Royal Museum of Mariemont and the Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies of Ghent University.

CfP in PDF