Religions of Central Asia
Prof. Kirill Solonin
Renmin University, Beijing, China
Prof. Carmen Meinert
Center for Religious Studies
The VIP grant allowed Prof. Carmen Meinert to intensify the exchange with Prof. Kirill Solonin, Professor for Central Asian Studies at Renmin University, within the frame of the international cooperation between the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) and the School of Classics at Renmin University, Beijing, China. Prof. Solonin’s expertise in the field of Buddhist Studies, particularly with the rare focus on sinitic and tantric traditions in Tangut Buddhism (9th to 13th c.) in Eastern Central Asia, matches well with the research programme of CERES, tracing the dynamics of religious transfer processes between Asia and Europe.
Prof. Solonin is very supportively participating in the CERES graduate education, enhancing the quality of the doctoral research of CERES PhD candidates. During his first visit as a Visiting International Professor at CERES at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum from October 02nd to 10th, 2015 CERES PhD candidates could make individual appointments with Prof. Solonin, consulting him on very specific queries, e.g. topics related to Huayan Buddhism in the Tangut Empire and Bangladeshi and Taiwanese networks of engaged Buddhists. Prof. Solonin also taught interested doctoral students on Tangut history, language, script and religion with particular regard to Tangut Buddhism.
Furthermore, Prof. Kirill Solonin gave a guest lecture, on October, 10th 2015 on “The Formation of Tangut Buddhism between China and Tibet – from historical and philological perspective’’. The guest lecture was attended by CERES colleagues, international visiting researchers from the KHK research consortium Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe (a CERES project), colleagues from the Faculty of East Asian Studies and several advanced master students from both institutions.
During his second stay as a VIP at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum from December 15th to 18th 2015, Prof. Solonin taught an intorduction to a classical Chinese Buddhist manuscript from the Khara Khoto collection dated from the Tangut Empire. The outcome of the second teaching unit was a rough translation of the source text.
Bochum welcomed Prof. Solonin again from October 2nd to 12th, 2016. His guest lecture on „Tibetan Buddhism in Xixia and the Tangut Kumārajīva Legend“ revealed a specifically Tangut interpretation of the Buddhist history in India and China. The guest lecture resulted in a vivid discussion among CERES colleagues, international visiting researchers from the KHK research consortium and colleagues from the Faculty of East Asian Studies, during an informal dinner.
Furthermore Prof. Solonin taught an introduction to several classical Chinese Buddhist texts from the Taishō Tripiṭaka (Chinese Buddhist canon including Japanese commentaries), which are all topically linked to the formerly dealt with manuscript from the Kharakhoto collection which he taught during his stay in December 2015. The outcome of the third teaching unit was a rough translation of the prefaces of these texts.
Beyond the VIP grant
March to April 2017
The intensification of working with Prof. Solonin resulted in a fellowship invitation to him from March 1st to April 30th, 2017 sponsored by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe (research consortium connected to the Center of Religious Studies at RUB).
2017 to 2022
Beside the above mentioned actvities, Prof. Meinert and Prof. Solonin further developed their research cooperation through a larger research project. Prof. Meinert has been awarded one of the prestigious grants by the European Research Council (ERC), “Dynamics in Buddhist Networks in Eastern Central Asia 6th to 14th Centuries”, short “BuddhistRoad”. As one of her expert research members Prof. Solonin will contribute among four other colleagues to investigate how Buddhist localisations were shaped in premodern Central Asian cultures on a regional level. The international team will start their research in August 2017 and will continue their collaborative work for five years.
Furthermore Prof. Solonin will participate in Prof. Meinert’s panel “Zones of Contact: Facets of Buddhist Interactions in Eastern Central Asia during the 9th-14th Centuries” at the XVIII Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies to be held at Toronto University (August 20th to 25th, 2017).
Moreover, once Prof. Solonin starts his work in the ERC project “BuddhistRoad” he plans to also further intensify his relations with members of the Faculty of East Asian Studies and will give another guest lecture at the so called „luch time panel“ held at the Faculty of East Asian Studies.