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Research programme

Canonical Cultures network

Religion, Philosophy, and the Pre-modern World

Peter Bisschop

The ‘Canonical Cultures’ research network integrates a group of scholars whose work concerns the fields of religion and philosophy from Asia to the Near East. The common thread that binds our diverse research agendas is a shared commitment to a sustained engagement with primary sources (textual and material) and an effort to locate these sources in their social, historical, and cultural contexts.

More specifically, we use the heading ‘Canonical Cultures’ to describe social groups whose sense of identity is articulated through the creation and dissemination of a particular circumscribed body of knowledge deemed culturally authoritative. We consider the interactions of different social groups and canons trans-regionally and across history. And since this is not a straightforward process, we also address the ruptures, conflicts, and debates involved in the dynamics of canon formation both within and across communities. While the term ‘canon’ typically evokes a textual corpus, the network does not focus exclusively on charting the history of the formation of textual canons. Our perspective emphasizes that canonical bodies of knowledge may also be transmitted through embodied, material, and visual forms.

Canonical Cultures Network events

25 November 2021
15:15-16:30 hrs

Violence and the State: Perspectives from Ancient India by prof. dr. Upinder Singh (Ashoka University)

Venue: 'Verbarium', Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

21 November 2019

11:15-13:00 hrs

Masterclass on the Mahābhārata by Prof. Dr. James L. Fitzgerald (Brown University).

Venue: 'Verbarium', Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

21 November 2019

15:15-17:00 hrs

Double lecture on Kingship in Epic Literature by Gabrielle van den Berg (Leiden University) and Luther Obrock (University of Toronto Mississauga).

Venue: 'Verbarium', Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

19 September 2019

15:15-17:00 hrs

Symposium on Sacred Economies with short presentations by Edmund Hayes (Early Islam), Berthe Jansen (Tibetan Buddhism), Peter Szántó (Indian Buddhism) and Nazanin Tamari (Zoroastrianism).

Venue: 'Verbarium', Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

17 May 2019
15:15-17:00 hrs

Symposium on Canonical and Sacred Landscapes with four presentations by Peter Bisschop (Near East) Elizabeth Cecil (Southeast Asia), Bleda Düring (Near East) and Nico Staring (Egypt).

Venue: 'Verbarium', Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

13 March 2019
15:15-17:00 hrs

Symposium on the Archives and Libraries of the Ancient World with short presentations by three Buddhologists (Jonathan Silk, Yixiu JIANG and Yu BAI) and an Assyriologist (Caroline Waerzeggers) and an Egyptologist (Ben Haring).
Venue: Matthias de Vrieshof 3, room 104

23 February 2018
11:45-14:00 hrs

Symposium on the Religion & Cultural Geography in the Ancient World with a keynote presentation by Prof. Jörg Rüpke of Erfurt University, followed by lectures from three Leiden-based scholars, Ab de Jong, Nico Staring and Ruixuan Chen.
Venue: Leiden University Library, Vossiuszaal

1 December 2017
13.00-16.00 hrs

Symposium on the study of inscriptions with a key lecture by Richard Payne, followed by lectures from Ahmad Al-JalladCsaba Dezsö and Jacques van der Vliet.
Venue: Gravensteen room 1.11

2 June 2017
15.15-17.00 hrs

Presentations by Lara Weiss (Egyptology) and Laxshmi Greaves, who is currently in Leiden as a Gonda fellow at the IIAS and works on premodern south Asian material culture.
Venue: M. de Vrieshof 1 room 001

21 April 2017
15.15-17.00 hrs
Brief presentations by Jeffrey Kotyk (Buddhist Studies), Peter Bisschop and Elizabeth Cecil (South Asian Studies) on the basis of forthcoming work.
Venue: M. de Vrieshof 1 room 001
23 February 2017      

Nirajan Kafle, The Śivadharma Corpus. Canon or Not?
Alexandra Plesa, Burial Dress at the Late Antique and Early Islamic Matmar and Mostagedda (Middle Egypt). Regional fashion?

17 November 2016 Second Canonical Cultures network meeting
20 October 2016

First Canonical Cultures network meeting


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