At a time when the challenges of religions are again being recognized as crucial in comprehending major global events, the research arm of INALCO on the rue de Lille, Paris, welcomes a completely new federated research center, the CEIB (Centre d’études interdisciplinaires sur le bouddhisme). This new center was created as a joint project by INALCO (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales), EPHE (École pratique des hautes études) and the Collège de France.
The CEIB is supported by the expertise and networks constituted over the years by colleagues from these three establishments and other French institutions, in order to meet the scientific demands linked to ongoing religious changes and disciplinary reconfigurations, while also preserving and promoting the heritage of two centuries of French Buddhist studies. The center will support the various teams of researchers in France who devote some of their work to Buddhisms, and it is hoped that the center will reinforce their collaboration.
The project of creating CEIB was begun in June 2015 by Catherine Despeux (professor emeritus, INALCO), Jean-Noël Robert (professor at the Collège de France), Anne Cheng (professor at the Collège de France), Vincent Goossaert (Directeur d’études at EPHE), Sylvie Hureau (Maître de conférences at EPHE), and Ji Zhe (Maître de conférences at INALCO and member of the Institut universitaire de France).
The goal from the beginning was to group resources and experts in order to:
1) support students and young researchers, at the scientific, administrative and financial levels;
2) coordinate and finance individual and collective research projects;
3) promote interdisciplinarity of research;
4) reinforce international collaboration and create a permanent international network of researchers;
5) encourage integration of teaching and research, as well as the diffusion of knowledge among researchers, students, and the public interested in academic, non-denominational studies on Buddhism.
With the support of the three founding establishments, the CEIB took shape after more than a year of intensive preparatory work. It is currently attached to the INALCO Equipe ASIEs, and is financed by several foundations. On 22 March 2017, an inaugural ceremony will take place at the rue de Lille, followed by the first presentation of the Lin Li-kouang distinguished lectures for Buddhist studies. For this premiere, we welcome Professor Stephen F. Teiser of Princeton University.
However, this is only the beginning. During the week of the 20th of March, there will also be three more presentations and an international colloquium organized or supported by the CEIB; there will be a call for candidates for doctoral and postdoctoral scholarships before the end of the semester.
These actions, and others to come, should allow the CEIB to take part in the worldwide dynamic of Buddhist studies. Since the beginning of the 20th century, scholarly interest in Buddhism has grown considerably. In North America and Europe, research centers have multiplied: Columbia (1988), Stanford (1997), then UCLA (200), UC Berkeley (2004), Oxford (2004), Ghent (2007), and Hamburg (2007), without mentioning the dozens of centers in Asian universities, in China, Japan and Korea. In this context, the CEIB, as the first French academic center entirely dedicated to Buddhist studies, plans to service as a catalyst to reinforce and highlight French research on Buddhism through its international opening to approaches from every field. It is an ambitious undertaking, but can be achieved through concrete, continuous effort. As the 9th-century Chinese Chan master Changsha Jingcen teaches us, even if we are on “the top of a hundred-foot pole,” we must still “take one step forward.”
CEIB, February 21, 2017Translated from French by Julie Sullivan