The Buddha’s Footprint: An Environmental History of Asia


Location: 1030 Jenkins Nanovic Hall

Contrary to popular imaginings, the Dharma has not historically been an inherently environmental religion. Rather, early Buddhism was a prosperity theology that succeeded mainly on account of its willingness to exploit both people and natural resources on the commodity frontier. As such, by investigating the links between Buddhism and agricultural expansion this talk will explore how Buddhists radically transformed Asia’s environment.

Johan Elverskog is Dedman Family Distinguished Professor, Chair of Religious Studies, and, by courtesy, Professor of History at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of eight books. This talk will be drawn from his latest book, “The Buddha’s Footprint: An Environmental History of Asia”, forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press. It focuses on the environmental history of Asia, toppling the myth that Buddhism is “green” by examining its practices across Asia as it becomes a dominant institutional and religious force.

A reception will immediately proceed the event at 4:30 pm. The talk will begin at 5:00 pm. 

Co-sponsored by East Asian Languages and Cultures, Department of History, Sustainability Studies, and Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion.


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