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Anthropology and Buddhism in Asia



This course, which is financed by the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies Fonds, is open to all interested in the field of Buddhist Studies. Students who want to get credits for the course, should register for the course as for regular courses and will have to write the paper. Others do not have to register and can just attend the lectures.

This course will start on 14 September!

Admission requirements



This course provides an overview of Buddhism as a subject of studies for anthropologists. Although the focus is largely on the various types of Asian Buddhism, there is some attention given to the presence of Buddhism in the West. After discussing certain themes prevalent in the study of the anthropology of Buddhism such as the ‘dichotomy’ of text and practice, Buddhist modernism, Buddhist nationalism, the social role of Buddhism, and gender relations, a number of lectures will be devoted to anthropological studies of the different regional varieties of Buddhism in Asia. The course will reflect on the diversity of ‘living’ Buddhism in Asia and on the contribution of the anthropological lens to Buddhist Studies more broadly.

Course objectives

This course gives a general survey of the topic, therefore, students will gain basic knowledge of the most important issues at play regarding the anthropology of Buddhism. They will learn to recognize and distinguish normative and descriptive studies of Buddhist topics.



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Course Load

Total course load for the course (5 EC x 28 hours) is 140 hours

  • Lectures: (2 hours per week x 13 weeks) is 26 hours

  • Preparation lecture / assignments: (2 hours per week x 12 weeks) is 24 hours

  • Assignment (necessary hours to write a paper (including research and reading secondary literature): 90 hours

Assessment method

  • Paper of 3,500 words (100%)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. Students who receive an overall mark for the course of 5.49 (=5) or lower will be allowed to write a new paper (100%) on a different subject. Deadline to be determined by the convenor of the course.



Reading list



Students who want to get credits for this course are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs


No registration needed to attend this course as a student à la carte.


Mw. Dr. Berthe Jansen


Other Buddhism related courses

At BA-level
Fall Semester
Buddhism through Stories
Buddhist Art
Culture of Tibet
Introduction to Buddhism
Japanse religies en boeddhisme
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts
Iconography of South and Southeast Asia
Elementary Pali
Tibetan 1

Spring Semester
Architecture: The Temple and the Stupa
Chinese Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibet: State and Society
Sacred Biography in Buddhism and Jainism
Indian Philosophy
Tibetan 2

At MA-level
Buddhism and Social Justice
Reading Buddhist Scriptures
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).