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IBS to Host Rev. Dr. Taitestsu Unno Memorial Lecture

Anthology of Asian American Buddhist Women Will Be Focus of April 12 Event


With generous support from the Unno family and in honor of Rev. Dr. Taitetsu Unno, the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) is pleased to host the Taitetsu Unno Memorial lecture at 4 p.m. April 12 at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, California.


Seattle University Buddhism Professor Dr. Sharon A. Suh will discuss her latest research project entitled, “Emergent Dharma: An Anthology of Asian American Feminist Buddhist Women,” the first anthology of its kind on how Asian American feminist Buddhist women have been seeing and practicing Buddhism in the United States. 


“Emergent Dharma” reveals women’s often ambivalent relationships to meditation in favor of alternative modes of practice. 


The anthology reveals a complex picture of Asian American religiosity and spirituality. For some, the embrace of Buddhism followed after they intentionally turned away from the religious tradition they grew up with. 


Counter to the prevailing belief that Asian American Buddhist women adhere to familial religious rituals and beliefs, these narratives reflect a more complicated picture of disavowal, yearning, ingratitude, and transformation with and through Buddhism.


Dr. Suh will explain how Buddhism is perceived, received, and practiced differently by Asian American Buddhist women — whether through practice, discipline, serving as a Buddhist auntie, visiting cemeteries in lieu of temples, talk story, attuning to the nonhuman world, cultivating self-love, and grappling with difficult familial relationships. 


The “Emergent Dharma” anthology intends to make clear that Asian Americans not only practice Buddhism differently, but that there is a flourishing world of Buddhism beyond seated meditation to relieve individual and collective suffering.


The lecture will be followed by discussion and Q&A moderated by Dr. Paula Arai. Following the Q&A, Dean Scott Mitchell will present an IBS student with an award for outstanding scholarship.


The event will be held at the JSC, 2140 Durant St., Berkeley, California. It will also be livestreamed on Zoom. Visit www.shin-ibs.edu/events to register. 


Dr. Suh holds the Patricia Wismer Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies chair at Seattle University. She is Professor of Buddhism at Seattle University and author of: “Being Buddhist in a Christian World: Gender and Community in a Korean American Temple” (University of Washington Press, 2004), “Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film  (Bloomsbury Press, 2015), and “Occupy This Body: A Buddhist Memoir”  (Sumeru Press, 2019). 


She is the current president of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and a certified teacher of mindful eating-conscious living through the University of California San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness with extensive training in trauma-informed yoga.





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