Harvard Daoist Studies Symposium: The Body, Gender, and Self-cultivation in Daoism

Daoism conference poster

This two-day symposium aims to bring in several of the world’s leading experts in the study of Daoism to focus on the topic of body, gender, and self-cultivation in Daoism. This topic is a fertile ground for research, especially because Daoism at most stages of its development envisioned spiritual perfection as inextricably bound with the physical body, and because attitudes towards gender in many Daoist communities were complex and could differ in significant ways from those found in other Chinese sources. The nexus of body, gender, and self-cultivation, therefore, makes for an exceptionally productive and exciting theme to explore in a sustained way through a series of talks and extensive discussions.

Thursday, April 25

9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.
Introductory Remarks 

9:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
Panel 1 
Medicines, Meridians, and Meditation
Chair: James Robson (Harvard) 
Michael Stanley-Baker (Nanyang Technological University), “The Medicalizationof Chinese Religion: The Han Watershed, the Rise of Religions of Personal Salvation, and how Embodied Practices Came to Figure Spiritual Status in Chinese Religions” 
Kato Chie (Rikkyo University),  “A Study on the Connection Between the Ren Du Meridian System and Internal Alchemy” 任脈督脈と内丹との結合についての一考察 

10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 
Coffee Break 

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 
Panel 2 
Daoism and Buddhism
Chair: James Robson (Harvard)
Stephen R. Bokenkamp (Arizona State University), 
“Buddhism in the Declarations of the Perfected”《真誥》中的剪輯痕跡
Gil Raz (Dartmouth College), “Traces of the Way: Memory and Transformation in Daoist Jataka Tales” 

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch for participants 

1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Panel 3 
The Body and Gender: Internal Alchemy and Female Alchemy
Chair: James Robson (Harvard)
Dominic Steavu (University of California at Santa Barbara), “What Do Divine Embryos and Mushrooms Have in Common? Some Reflections on the Virtues of Self-Reproduction in Daoism”
Sasha Makarova (Harvard), "Bodily Formation and Female Impurity: Placenta as the Source of Mortality in Shangqing Texts."
Elena Valussi (Loyola University Chicago), “Resistant Fleshiness: Gender, Body, and Transcendence in Daoist 

Friday, April 26

9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 
Panel 4 
The Daoist Master Between This World and the Other World 
Chair: Michael Puett (Harvard) 
David J. Mozina (Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University), “Transcorporeal Bodies and the Chthonic Realm of Fengdu”
Norifumi Sakai (Keio University), “The Chaoxiu Mizhi 朝修秘旨 in the Collection of the Harvard Yenching Library” 

11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. 
Coffee Break 

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
New Directions in Daoist Studies 

 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch for participants 

Afternoon Event 

Co-sponsored by the Committee on the Study of Religion; Rabbi Joseph S. Shubow Memorial Fund; Harvard-Yenching Institute; and Harvard University Asia Center

Primary Contacts: 
James Robson (Harvard) jrobson@fasharvard.edu
Michael Puett (Harvard) puett@fas.harvard.edu
Sasha Makarova (Harvard) smakarova@g.harvard.edu 


Harvard University's Asia-Related Resources