Conversations About Our Scholarly Lives

12:00 PM  - 1:00 PM
Monday Sep 9, 2013
Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching (Room 338), DeWitt Wallace Library

Erik Davis, Religious Studies, will present “Nuon Chea’s New Buddhism."  This presentation reviews the highlights and key findings from an analysis of long-form interviews conducted by Davis with Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s “Brother Number Two,” in 2005 at his home in Pailin, and with the abbot at the nearby temple where he occasionally attends Buddhist rituals. Nuon Chea is likely the individual most responsible for the Khmer Rouge torture prisons, and is currently being tried in an international tribunal. He gave few recorded interviews prior to his arrest, one of them being the interview Davis conducted, primarily on the topics of Cambodian folktales and Buddhism.

Nuon Chea characterized key Buddhist concepts in a way that is consistent with some transnational ‘Buddhist modernist’ movements, especially as it regards the notion of multiple births, karma, and the understanding of spirits and rituals. This paper demonstrates the various ways in which these modernist reformulations of key Buddhist concepts are simultaneously distinct from traditional historical Cambodian imaginations of the same concepts,and serve to re-imagine Buddhist morality and modern Cambodian history in ways that are distinctly self-serving. His abbot disagrees with Nuon Chea’s innovative metaphysics, but sees the contemporary Nuon Chea as a man who made horrible ‘mistakes,’ but who is now a sincere Buddhist, an attitude Davis characterize as more traditional than modernist. All faculty are welcome.  Lunch will be provided.

Contact: Adrienne Christiansen, ext. 6714

This event is for: Alumni, Students, Staff, Faculty, Parents and Families and Public

Sponsored By: Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching (CST)

Categories: Front Page Events and Lectures and Speakers