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Inaugural Professorial Lecture – Professor Ben Schonthal

Law's Karma: Cause and effect in courtroom and cosmos

Ben Schonthal is Professor of Buddhist Studies and the Head of the Religion Programme at Otago. He received his PhD in the field of History of Religions at the University of Chicago, where his dissertation received the international 2013 Law & Society Association Dissertation Award. Ben's research examines the intersections of religion, law and politics in late-colonial and contemporary Southern Asia, with a particular focus on Buddhism and law in Sri Lanka. He has been President of the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions, a visiting fellow at Northwestern University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Bielefeld, Germany and visiting Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He co-directs the Otago Centre for Law and Society (OCLaS) and serves as Associate Editor for South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies and Buddhism, Law & Society and an executive board member of the Australian Association of Buddhist Studies.

Ben is the author of Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law (Cambridge University Press 2016) and a variety of scholarly articles in journals such as Modern Asian Studies, The Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religions and the International Journal of Constitutional Law. In 2016 he received the Otago University Award for Distinction in Research (Early Career). In 2021, he won the Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.

His current research project, Law's Karma, examines the politics and practice of Buddhist law in contemporary South and Southeast Asia. It is supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand. With Tom Ginsburg, he is also working on a project that examines the interlocking influences of Buddhism and Constitutional Law in Asia, with support from the National Science Foundation. This includes a workshop series in 2021.

Ben has won several awards for his teaching and supervision at the University of Chicago and Otago, including being named one of the “top ten teachers” and finalist for “supervisor of the year” by the Otago University Students Association and receiving the Division of Humanities' Teaching Excellence Award. In 2019, he received the University of Otago Excellence in Teaching Award.

This lecture will be followed with light refreshments, tea, coffee and juice.

Event to be live-streamed

This event will be live-streamed from 5:40pm, at the following web address:

Live-stream link for Professor Ben Schonthal's IPL

Test-stream link to test your connection to the streaming service

Date Tuesday, 14 March 2023
Time 5:45pm - 7:45pm
Audience Public,All University
Event Category Humanities
Event Type Academic
Inaugural Professorial Lecture
DepartmentReligious Studies
LocationCastle 1 Lecture Theatre, Dunedin, and online via live-stream
Contact NameAnna Poole

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