Coordinator: Marek Zemánek, Institute of Asian Studies, CU FA
The group aims to connect the study of the religions of the Far East, India, Tibet and Southeast Asia and thus realize the potential of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University and the generally rich tradition of Asian studies in the Czech lands. A research team composed of academics, doctoral students, and possibly other master’s students, will link the study of religion in the given areas with religious, sociological and anthropological approaches, and will address issues and problems that are intended for common areas.Religion is one of the key aspects of Asian culture, and the need to study in context is obvious. Many religious traditions share common roots (eg Buddhism and Hinduism) or interact for centuries of coexistence (Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in the Far East, or Buddhism and Hinduism in India and Southeast Asia). All religious systems are clocked to have to cope with modern and Western influence.
Joint research on fundamental topics will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between religious traditions, the relationship between religion and the state, insight into strategies for creating one’s own identities and, last but not least, the interaction between East and West in the context of religion and spirituality.
The output of the group’s activities will be, in addition to organizing workshops and seminars and publishing activities, also the application of knowledge to teaching,
Currents and countercurrents
The aim of this research is to find relationships between different religious systems. Studying different religious traditions together will allow us to see how they influenced each other, how key concepts and practices were shared.
Identity and tradition
The search for one’s own identity and the continuous creation of “original” traditions is a phenomenon common to all the religious traditions of Asia. The study of specific examples will allow us to find parallels and formulate general conclusions in the context of recent discourse within “invented traditions”.
Religion, politics and conflict
In this section, we will focus on the relationship between religion and the state, the role of religion in local and global politics and the role of religious traditions in conflicts. Despite the fact that the individual traditions developed in different political milieux, they always had to come to terms with state power in some way. This relationship is no less important today. The study of these relationships within the group will allow us to see the mechanisms of functioning and interconnectedness of these two phenomena.
Asian religions in the world, Europe and the Czech Republic
Religious phenomena of Asian origin are now an integral part of the religious market in the West. In addition to already established popular forms of religious traditions (Zen Buddhism, yoga, Tibetan Buddhism), new forms of spirituality and new traditions (new religious movements from Korea, humanistic Buddhism from Taiwan) are penetrating the West, including the Czech Republic. In this section, we will focus not only on the description of these phenomena, but also on the effort to understand the mechanisms of missionary activities and, last but not least, the relationships of various new religions across Asia.