Buddhism and Social Justice Project at Leiden University

Web site: http://www.vacatures.leidenuniv.nl/wetenschappelijk/10–048-3x-phd-and-1x-post-doc.html

Project descrip­tion

Bud­dhism is wide­ly per­ceived to be, and Bud­dhist sources them­selves pro­mote the tra­di­tion as, a phi­los­o­phy of lib­er­a­tion. Yet, as per­haps every­where, Bud­dhist soci­eties, both ancient and mod­ern, not only evi­dence, but indeed seem to pro­mote, social inequal­i­ties. The project ‘Buddhism and Social Jus­tice’ explores the inner ten­sions in Bud­dhist cul­tures between inher­it­ed core val­ues and social real­i­ties, with spe­cif­ic foci on ques­tions of labor (e.g., slav­ery and forced labor, serf­dom) and social sta­tus (e.g., caste and dis­crim­i­na­tion).

The project con­sists of five stud­ies: a core inves­ti­ga­tion of slav­ery and caste in India and stud­ies on slav­ery in Korea, buraku­min (‘outcastes’) in Japan, ‘serfdom’ and monas­tic econ­o­my in Tibet, and eth­nic­i­ty and Bud­dhism in Sri Lan­ka. These are approached through text-historical, his­tor­i­cal and a socio-anthropological meth­ods. The syn­er­gy between the projects lies in the ques­tion of how Bud­dhist ways of think­ing and act­ing inform and struc­ture his­tor­i­cal­ly Bud­dhist Asian soci­eties, and how, cor­re­spond­ing­ly, Bud­dhist ide­olo­gies and dog­mas were trans­formed in his­tor­i­cal con­texts. This study seeks there­fore to uncov­er the links between the ancient and the mod­ern and the the­o­ret­i­cal and the real-world, there­by lead­ing both to a deep­er appre­ci­a­tion of how reli­gious sys­tems func­tion in soci­eties in gen­er­al, and to a more nuanced appre­ci­a­tion of the dynam­ics of his­tor­i­cal­ly Bud­dhist soci­eties in gen­er­al, par­tic­u­lar­ly with respect to ques­tions of social jus­tice. As such, the work is sit­u­at­ed not only with­in the realms of Bud­dhist stud­ies and Asian his­to­ry, but also at the junc­ture of reli­gious stud­ies, polit­i­cal sci­ence and anthro­pol­o­gy, as it engages issues of church and soci­ety, slav­ery stud­ies, and the study of race, eth­nic­i­ty and caste.

Posi­tions avail­able

  • Post-doc: Slav­ery in Kore­an Bud­dhism. Vacan­cy num­ber: 10–048.
  • Ph.D. 1: Buraku­min (‘outcastes’) in Japan­ese Bud­dhism. Vacan­cy num­ber: 10–048a.
  • Ph.D. 2: ‘Serfdom’ and Tibetan Monas­tic Econ­o­my. Vacan­cy num­ber: 10–048b.
  • Ph.D. 3: Eth­nic­i­ty and Bud­dhism in Sri Lan­ka. Vacan­cy num­ber: 10–048c.

See the full project descrip­tion at http://www.hum.leiden.edu/lias/research/sas/vici-project-silk.html.

Post-Doctoral Fel­low­ship appli­cants should have a demon­stra­bly excel­lent aca­d­e­m­ic track record in Bud­dhist stud­ies and hold a Ph.D. in Bud­dhist stud­ies or a relat­ed field, or its equiv­a­lent. They should have an excel­lent com­mand of Eng­lish and be pre­pared to present their research results in Eng­lish. Appli­cants will teach a small num­ber of cours­es on top­ics with­in their area of spe­cial­iza­tion and assist in guid­ing the Ph.D. stu­dents.

Con­di­tions of employ­ment

The posi­tion of the Post­doc­tor­al fel­low is tem­po­rary, max­i­mum three years with a full-time appoint­ment (38 hours per week).

The posi­tion of Ph.D.-fellow (‘promovendus’) is tem­po­rary, max­i­mum four years with a full-time appoint­ment, and with an ini­tial 18-month tri­al peri­od.

For more infor­ma­tion about the two posi­tions con­tact Prof. dr. J.A Silk (tel. +31–71-5272510; e-mail j.a.silk@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Also, see the full project descrip­tion at http://www.hum.leiden.edu/lias/research/sas/vici-project-silk.html.


Post-doc can­di­dates send your appli­ca­tion (in Eng­lish), includ­ing:

  • a cov­er let­ter stat­ing your moti­va­tion for this posi­tion,
  • a cur­ricu­lum vitae,
  • copies of your aca­d­e­m­ic tran­scripts,
  • a print­ed copy of your PhD the­sis and oth­er rel­e­vant pub­li­ca­tions, and
  • three ref­er­ences.

Send appli­ca­tions indi­cat­ing the appli­ca­tion num­ber to the fol­low­ing address before April 23, 2010: vacature@hum.leidenuniv.nl.