The 2007 International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics (宗教文化與性別倫理國際學術會議) was held over the weekend at Hsuan Chuang University (玄裝大學) in Xinzhu.
I was one of the MCs at the conference. I made all the announcements in English, while Doris made the announcements in Mandarin.
On the first day of the conference the keynote speech was given by Dr Mettanando. The topic was “The First Council and Suppression of the Nuns”. Ven. Sujato also gave a talk about the status of nuns in early Buddhist history based on study of the Pali texts. Some more of his research on early Buddhism can be found at the Sects and Sectarianism website. It was very interesting to hear these two experts give their analysis of Buddhist history. Kate Crosby also spoke about early Buddhism looking at representations of the female in Theravada Buddhism. She noted that many Western scholars looking for Buddhist feminist writings draw on Mahayana and Vajrayana texts, yet the Theravada canon also contains feminist writings.
The first day was also notable for various feminist perspectives of Buddhism. The papers of David Schak and Elise A. DeVido showed that even though women have played a prominent and important role in Buddhism in Taiwan, there hasn’t really been a transformation in attitudes about gender roles.
The second day of the conference focused on other religious traditions, mainly Christianity and Islam. There were more excellent talks and lots of issues to think about. Overall there was an excellent line up of speakers from overseas and Taiwan.
Many thanks to Ven. Chao Hwei for giving me the opportunity to be involved in this conference.