Northwestern Events Calendar


Dr. Jann Ronis: Collating Canons and Linking Data: Building Indra's Net for the Information Age

When: Wednesday, October 6, 2021
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Central

Where: Kresge Hall, Hybrid Event, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Joshua Shelton  

Group: The Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

Category: Academic


This lecture was delivered on October 6th, 2021. You can view it here.

The vast Buddhist literary heritage spans two thousand years and is expressed in numerous Asian languages and media. In the present-day, Buddhist temples and monasteries across Asia are still home to hundreds of thousands of volumes of scriptures and other writings, many of which are unique or endangered. Local efforts to preserve texts and maintain associated traditions of study, performance, and veneration are flourishing in many communities, often in the face of considerable challenges to cultural sustainability. One international organization that coordinates with grassroots projects is the Buddhist Digital Resource Center in Boston. In particular BDRC is currently engaged in large-scale projects to digitally preserve Buddhist texts in Thailand, Cambodia, Tibetan areas of China, and Mongolia, and digitizes over one million pages annually. This presentation by the executive director of BDRC will discuss the living manuscript cultures at these four locales and the ethical considerations involved in this preservation work. BDRC is also building the Web’s largest collection of Buddhist literature in Asian languages. With over 25 million pages already online, it is a vital resource for Buddhists, scholars, and translators worldwide. This presentation will also introduce the technologies powering the next generation of digital Buddhist research. People interested in Buddhism, cultural sustainability, digital humanities, and book culture should consider attending.

Jann Ronis is the executive director of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center in Boston, MA. He has a PhD degree in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia (2009). In 2005, fresh from 18 months in Beijing and Eastern Tibet, Jann was a scholar-in-residence at BDRC (then known as TBRC, Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center). He worked closely with BDRC's founder, E. Gene Smith, to develop the first iteration of TBRC's outlines, which remain the primary template for BDRC’s metadata. From 2011-2018, Jann taught Tibetan and Religious Studies at UC Berkeley for 7 years first as a postdoc and then as a lecturer. He and his team are endeavoring to expand BDRC into a truly pan-Buddhist resource, with enhanced digital tools and expanded literary holdings from around the world.

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