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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies organizes and sponsors a number of events such as lectures, film screening, workshops, symposia, conferences, exhibits, and performances throughout the year.  Several of these events are in collaboration with other U-M units, and are often free and open to the public. To see what we have planned for this semester, please view our poster »

CSEAS Fridays at Noon Lecture Series. Past Lives Present, Tense: Past life memory in contemporary Cambodia and its significance

Erik Davis, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Macalester College
Friday, January 26, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Room 555 Weiser Hall Map
Past-life memory in Cambodia is common. In Buddhist scriptural practices, past-life memory is usually thought of in terms of the Buddhist cycle of saṃsāra, where past-life memory is often a prerequisite for advanced stages of spiritual accomplishment. However, in practice, past-life memory is often deeply disturbing to the rememberer, their family and their community. This presentation discusses multiple examples of contemporary past-life memory out of Davis' fieldwork in Cambodia, highlighting the practices that surround such memory and uses to which such memories are put. Examples include the Cambodian Prime Minister, a young girl who remembers being her own uncle, a spiritual leader who claims to be the most important Buddhist leader of the Cambodian twentieth century as well as the repeated subject of national scandal because of his claims, and another woman who put two families together in her youth, and has maintained their connections into her eighties. These memories and rituals challenge many Western notions about the self and its construction in ways that may be productive.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Asia, Lecture, Southeast Asia
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Southeast Asian Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures