The Aesthetics and Emotions of Religious Belonging: Examples from the Buddhist World

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Abstract

The articles in this special issue illuminate the importance of aesthetics, affect, and emotion in the formation of religious communities through examples from the Buddhist world. This introduction reads across the contributors’ findings from different regions (China, India, Japan, and Tibet) and eras (from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries) to highlight common themes. It discusses how Buddhist communities can take shape around feelings of togetherness, distance, and absence, how bonds are forged and broken through spectacular and quotidian aesthetic forms, and how aesthetic and emotional practices intersect with doctrinal interpretations, gender, ethnicity, and social distinction to shape the moral politics of religious belonging. We reflect on how this special issue complicates the idea of Buddhist belonging through its focus on oft-overlooked practices and practitioners. We also discuss the insights that our studies of Asian Buddhist communities offer to the broader study of religious belonging.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalNumen: International Review for the History of Religions
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Apr 2021