The Pure Land in Buddhist Cultures: History, Image, Praxis, Thought

University of British Columbia | Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pure Land Buddhist traditions have been some of the largest and most influential in Buddhist history, and remain so to the present day. Moreover, the very idea of a purified, perfect land of a buddha echoes throughout Buddhist text and praxis. Most often, this buddha is “Immeasurable Light” or “Immeasurable Life,” who created a pure land far to the west of our own world. But there are many others. This conference aims to examine sectarian traditions of Pure Land Buddhism as well as the “pure land” within Buddhism generally. As this conference is jointly-sponsored by associations connected to Pure Land Buddhist traditions in two countries, it is a unique chance to approach pure land expansively, in terms of its long history, global reach, and diverse regional and trans-regional expressions–whether in or across what are today known as China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, and so on. The hope is to increase knowledge and scholarly exchange about the multifaceted development of pure land in Buddhist cultures. Papers are welcome on any aspect of pure land, type of Pure Land Buddhism, any region or historical period, and from any methodological or disciplinary perspective.

Papers might address questions such as:

  • How did the praxis, thought, and social forms concerned with the pure land and its central buddha emerge historically?
  • How do we best describe and analyze pure land forms in visual culture, whether embedded in text, in art and architecture, or in spatial and meditative imaginaries?
  • And, in an increasingly globalized world, how do we understand the connections between various kinds of Pure Land all over the world and the challenges that each faces?

Please submit a 100 word abstract and short bio to by February 1, 2013 for consideration.

The jointly-sponsored, “The Pure Land in Buddhist Cultures,” will be the 3rd Annual Conference of the Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program (University of British Columbia, funded by The Tung Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation), and the 16th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies (hosted by the IASBS North American District).