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Anne M. Blackburn

South Asian Studies and Buddhist Studies

346 Rockefeller Hall
(607) 254-6501

Biographical Note

Ph.D. in History of Religions received in 1996 from The University of Chicago Divinity School. M.A. in Religious Studies received in 1990 from The University of Chicago Divinity School. B.A. in Asian History & Religion (Special Major) received in 1988 from Swarthmore College. Teachers include: Steven Collins, Charles Hallisey, Frank Reynolds, P.B. Meegaskumbura, and Donald Swearer.

I was trained to study Buddhism as an historian of religions (in a program greatly influenced by historical sociology and hermeneutics) rather than as a philologist. My secondary supervisor worked in Buddhist Studies and South Asian Studies and was (unusually for the field at that time) insistent that scholars working on Buddhist texts attend to their literary features, and the contexts for their composition and reception. This combination of influences led me to an interest in Buddhist textual culture, and to combine close textual studies with an investigation of Buddhist institutional histories (an interest dating to my undergraduate days at Swarthmore College). Much of my work focuses on Buddhist monastic cultures, and Buddhist participation in networks linking Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia before and during colonial presence in the region.

Curriculum Vitae

Major Publications & Research in Progress:

  • Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture (Princeton 2001).
  • Approaching the Dhamma: Buddhist Texts and Practices in South and Southeast Asia. ed. Anne M. Blackburn and Jeffrey Samuels. (BPS Pariyatti Editions 2003).
  • Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka. (University of Chicago Press 2010).
  • Monks, Texts, and Relics: Towards a Connected History of 2nd-millennium Buddhisms in Southern Asia
  • Selected Articles:

  • "Lineage, Inheritance, and Belonging: Expressions of Monastic Affiliation from Lanka." In How Theravada is the Theravada?, ed. Peter Skilling, Jason Carbine, Claudio Cicuzza, and Santi Pakdeekham. (Silkworm Books, 2012).
  • "Ceylonese Buddhism in Colonial Singapore: New Ritual Spaces and Specialists,1895-1935." In ARI Working Papers Series (National University of Singapore),,(2012)No.184.
  • "'Buddhist Revival' and the 'Work of Culture' in 19th-Century Lanka." In The Anthropologist and the Native: Essays for Gananath Obeyesekere, ed. H.L. Seneviratne. (Societa Editrice Fiorentina-Manohar, 2009).
  • "Writing Histories from Landscape and Architecture: Sukhothai and Chiang Mai." Buddhist Studies Review 24:2 (2007): 192-225.
  • "Localizing Lineage: Importing Higher Ordination in Theravadin South and Southeast Asia." In Constituting Communities: Theravada Buddhism and the Religious Cultures of South and Southeast Asia, ed. John Holt, Jonathan Walters and Jacob Kinnard. (SUNY 2003).
  • "Notes on Sri Lankan Temple Manuscript Collections." Journal of the Pali Text Society. 27(2002):1-59.
  • "Serendipity and Sadness." In Excursions and Explorations: Cultural Encounters Between the United States and Sri Lanka, ed. Tissa Jayatilleke. (Print Pack Limited, Colombo 2002).
  • "Looking for the Vinaya: Monastic Discipline in the Practical Canons of the Theravada." Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 22 (1999):2: 281-309.
  • "Magic in the Monastery: Textual Practice and Monastic Identity in Sri Lanka." History of Religions. 38 (1999): 4:354-372.
  • Graduate Study:
    Prospective graduate students, and graduate students working at other institutions, are welcome to communicate about their plans and interests: or 607-254-6501.

    Asian 2201 Sophomore Writing Seminar: Buddhist Felicities
    Asian 2215 Introduction to South Asia
    Asian 4438/6638 Monks, Texts & Relics: Transnational Buddhism in Asia
    Asian 4462/6662 Religion, Colonialism & Nationalism
    Asian 6634 Buddhist Studies Seminar
    Pali 1151/1152 Accelerated Elementary Pali
    Pali 4450 Readings in Pali

    Related links:
    Link to doctoral study in Asian Studies at Cornell University
    Sinhala Language Program at Cornell University
    South Asia Program at Cornell University
    Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University
    Religious Studies Program at Cornell University
    American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

    Updated 07/01/2011