Events in Religion at Otago

To receive email announcements of seminars and lectures hosted by the Religion Programme please sign up to our mailing list here. If you are interested in presenting a seminar as part of the Religion Seminar Series 2024, or for further information, please contact Deane Galbraith.

Recordings of select past seminars and lectures are available on the Religion Programme, University of Otago YouTube channel.

Religion Seminar Series 2024

Friday 15 March, 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Hope, Happenstance, and the Making of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan's Landmark Transgender Rights Judgments

Prof Jeff Redding

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Between 2009 and 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued so-called 'landmark' transgender rights judgments. These allegedly momentous judgments were, however, incredibly opaque in meaning. Given the extraordinary significance attached to Pakistan's judgments, and also odd ones I discuss in this talk from other jurisdictions, the question emerges: Why do some judgments get designated as 'landmark'? I conclude that the designation represents a hope that a previous 'bad' era in sexuality or gender rights has finally been surpassed.

Jeff Redding is a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School and is the author of A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India (University of Washington Press, 2020), the co-editor of Queer and Religious Alliances in Family Law Politics and Beyond (Anthem Press, 2022), and is currently writing his next book on transgender rights developments in Pakistan and India.

Burns Building 5C13 (Humanities Seminar Room)

Friday 12 April, 1:00pm

Narada Maha Thera's dhammaduta in Indochina - 1932-1940

Dr Elizabeth Guthrie

Religion Programme, University of Otago

Today, the Sinhalese monk Narada Maha Thera (1898-1983) is remembered for his missionary activities in Europe and North America and publications in English, such as Buddhism in a Nutshell (1933); and students still study his primer, An Elementary Pali Course (1952). But his dhammaduta activities in Indochina are less well-known. In my presentation I will look at archival evidence for Narada's role in promoting Pali language and Buddhist relic cults in French Indochina between 1932-1940.

St David's Seminar Room C (G.03) Zoom: Zoom Link, Password: 241718

Friday 26 April, 1:00pm

New Buddhist trends in Sri Lanka: Umaṁdāva Universal Buddhist Village

Anushka Kahandagama

Religion Programme, University of Otago

I explore a variety of different Buddhist groups that gained popularity in Sri Lanka over the past few decades, each with a cyber presence where they (de)value based on views and subscribers. The pandemic has intensified the virtual presence of the groups. E-monasteries have become a phenomenon in intangible realms, reminding us of the ethereal Buddhist cosmos of heavens and mind statuses. The last four decades, notably the post-war era from 2009 onwards, have witnessed the rise of diverse Buddhist groups in the country, with Umaṁdāva being a prominent one. Samantabhadra, the chief incumbent, has named Umaṁdāva a Universal Buddhist village. This village-temple hosts various programs, including agricultural workshops, food-related training, retreats, bio-gas production training, dairy farming, English and computer classes for school children, and dhamma discussions. Umaṁdāva Buddhist group displays behaviors and beliefs diverging from traditional Buddhist expectations, particularly in terms of authority, space, and the monk-laity relationship. Despite categorizing these diverging factors under distinct themes, in practice, they are overlapping and interconnected.

St David's Seminar Room C (G.03)

Friday 10 May, 1:00pm

Threads of Faith: Finding Meaning in the Art of Ecclesiastical Embroidery

Donna Roy

Religion Programme, University of Otago

St David's Seminar Room C (G.03)

Friday 24 May, 1:00pm

Buddhism for the More-Than-Human Realm: Chinese Buddhism Beyond the Humanistic Turn

Dr Lina Verchery

Lecturer in Religious Studies, School of Social and Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington / Te Herenga Waka

St David's Seminar Room C (G.03)

Wairuataka Reading Group 2024

August-September, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Re-reading The Lore of the Whare-Wānanga

Room 5S5 Common Room

Events Archive

University of Otago Religious Studies Programme