Hunt for History of Mongolian Buddhism Leads to Smith
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – These days, when Professor Jamie Hubbard’s eyes take on a faraway look behind his round glasses, his mind is often racing across the barren steppes of Mongolia in search of history.
Ask Hubbard about his three weeks in Mongolia last summer preparing to host a “big Buddhist bash” at Smith College March 27 to 29, and you will soon learn of a modern day struggle to reclaim lost traditions and teachings.
“Mongolia is the first Asian Buddhist country to emerge from communist rule but to reestablish their Buddhist traditions they have many obstacles to overcome,” said Hubbard, the Yehan Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies, “not least is the loss of virtually all senior teachers and institutions.”
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990, Mongolian nationals have worked to restore Buddhist institutions destroyed under communism in the early part of the century, according to Hubbard.
“The loss of cultural diversity and religious plurality is a significant danger in this rapidly globalizing environment,” said Hubbard.
Relatively few western scholars study Mongolian Buddhist traditions as separate and distinct from Tibetan Buddhism. But the nation, wedged between Russia and China, has its own tale to tell, Hubbard added.
A core group of more than 20 academics in history, religion, anthropology and art from Mongolia, North America and Europe will share their current research on Buddhism in Mongolia at Smith’s three-day conference.
As part of the conference, Mongolia’s 2008 Female Artist of the Year, Soyolma Davaakhuu, will present her exhibit March 18 through April 4 at the Campus Center Arts Lounge.
All lectures are free and open to the public and will be held in the Browsing Room of the Neilson Library. However, based on space limitations, registration is required.
For information about disability access or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail ODS@smith.edu. All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.