Northwestern Events Calendar


Darice Price-Wallace: "Telling Stories Affectively: Multivocal Perspectives on the Buddhist Women's Foundational Ordination Narrative"

When: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Joshua Shelton  

Group: The Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

Category: Academic


Darcie Price-Wallace is a doctoral candidate in Religious Studies at Northwestern University.
She holds an MA in History of Religions and an MA in Social Work from the University of Chicago. She completed fieldwork in Buddhist monasteries in the northwestern Himalayan regions of India under a Fulbright-Nehru Student Grant. Her research examines textual narratives and oral histories of ordained Himalayan and Tibetan women alongside a contemporary ordination movement for female monastics, paying attention to how such rhetoric is relevant for sustaining an ethic of care in present day monastic communities. She annually teaches anthropology of Buddhism on the Carleton Buddhist Studies Program in India and/or Thailand.

Darcie's dissertation explores a centuries-old debate within Buddhism about whether or how to reinstate the full ordination of women by listening to the stories of Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist tsunmas (ordained monastic women). Her work corrects the omission in past discussions that ignored those most directly impacted by this debate—tsunmas. In doing so, she demonstrates their nuanced perspectives, illustrating that full ordination is not a contemporary issue, but part of a much longer narrative in Tibetan history. Buddhist women’s ordination has been a contentious issue throughout Buddhism’s twenty-six-hundred-year history, beginning with the Buddha’s initial refusal and eventual acceptance of women ordinands. Presently, tsunmas practicing in the Tibetan tradition cannot receive their gelongma (full ordination) vows because the dominant narrative holds that the gelongma lineage was lost when Buddhism entered Tibet in the 8th century. This narrative underlies current conflicting approaches for reinstating gelongma vows suggested by Tibetans-in-exile in India. Darcie asks: How do tsunmas narrate stories about gelongma ordinations in Tibet and India; what different versions of the story do they tell about what happened to women’s ordination, and why is it important? These stories are critical to religious studies because tsunmas’ analytical position contests visions of gender parity and foregrounds an ethic of care they foster through their constitutive relationships shaping and sustaining monastic communities. Darice presents how, with solemn hope, these tsunmas distill the rare presences of gelongma narratives while also reflecting with tsunmas about the future of gelongma ordinations.

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