Burchenal Lecture Series

Celebrating the 2017–18 College Program Series Theme:
Sense of Home

Shaved Heads and Celibate Bodies: Gender and Freedom in Female Buddhist Monasticism

Amy Paris Langenberg, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Eckerd College
Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 7.30 p.m., Fox Hall

Buddhist communities have supported female Buddhist monastics since the Buddha’s time. Stepping outside of the very limited roles allowed to women, premodern Indian Buddhist nuns forged forms of Buddhist discipline that overlapped with but were not identical to the Buddhist discipline of monks. Living together as celibate women, they developed bodily practices and understandings of their gendered selves different from those of their lay sisters. Dr. Amy Paris Langenberg will shine a light on how contemporary female Buddhist monastic communities have inherited and continue to adapt these distinctive modes of understanding female bodies and female selves. The sophisticated knowledge and practice traditions of Buddhist monastic women offer unexpected insights into the gendered nature of freedom, and new angles of approach that may challenge the way we think about liberation, women, and the sexed body.