Out of Time:
Mindfulness and Temporality in Theravāda Asia
January 26, 2018
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Rm 317
170 St George St
University of Toronto/McMaster University
NUMATA BUDDHIST STUDIES PROGRAM 2017-18
LECTURE: Out of Time: Mindfulness and Temporality in Theravāda Asia
FRIDAY, January 26, 2018, 3-5 pm, UTSG, JHB 317
In this talk I will discuss an ethnographically based research project on the mindfulness practices of monks, psychiatrists, and lay Buddhists in the Theravāda countries of Thailand, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Drawing from data collected from over 600 participants I map out some of the ways that mindfulness, as understood through its Pali-language root sati, is associated in South and Southeast Asia to psychological processes in ways that are different from how they are usually understood in Western cultural contexts. I focus on what I have called the TAPES of mindfulness: Temporality, Affect, Power, Ethics, and Selfhood, and demonstrate how each suggests new perspectives for thinking about the complicated relationship between culture and mind. I begin with a case study of a man named Sen staying at a psychiatric hospital in Chiang Mai, and through an examination of the meanings that he and his family and friends make of his problems show some of the connections that local ideas about the mind have to the wider circulation of Buddhism across South and Southeast Asia, and around the world.
Dr. JULIA CASSANITI received her PhD from the University of Chicago, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Medical Anthropology at Washington State University. Her research focus is on the connections between mental processes, religious ideologies, and everyday life a small Buddhist community in Northern Thailand, where she has been working for the past 15 years. She attends especially to the ways that culturally-variable conceptions of the world affect mental health, and the results of transnational flows of assumptions about these issues in the lives of local informants. She is the author of Living Buddhism: Mind, Self and Emotion in a Thai Community (Cornell University Press, 2015), and Universalism Without Uniformity: Explorations in Mind and Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Her upcoming book Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia will be published from Cornell University Press in the Spring of 2018.
Related Reading Group
Hot Hearts, Cold Hearts: Affect and Mental Health in Northern Thai Approaches to Change
at McMaster (University Hall 122) on Thursday, January 25, 4-6pm.