Distinguished Lecture (1) Buddhism in the Cultural Flow of the Global Era
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In the 20th century, transportation and information technology allowed for new forms of commercial networks. The speed of travel and transmission of data compressed time and space. Buddhism which had for centuries been localized in the Eastern portion of Eurasia was opened to a world-wide audience. Its influence and followers can now be found throughout the earth. How has this been accomplished? Who were the supporters for such a significant development?
Professor Lewis Lancaster taught at the University of California, Berkeley for 33 years. He helped set up the Ph.D. program in Buddhist Studies on that campus and served as the director until his retirement. One of his major efforts in addition to the training of a generation of scholars, has been directed toward bringing digital technology to the field. In pioneering projects, the canonic literature in Pali, Chinese, and Sanskrit languages was made available for full-text computer use. This work was done in collaboration with technical partners in Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S. Today, he continues to work with other partners to develop software for the use of large datasets in Buddhist studies. These current projects include incorporation of dictionaries, analytic software for imaging search results, and adapting data for use in hand-held devices. While trained in the classical methodology of textual research, Professor Lancaster continues to review the practices of study in the age of new technology. Working with associates in Hong Kong, Sydney, Lausanne, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sri Lanka, India, and Southeast Asia, he is preparing a 3-D Virtual Reality installation that highlights the spread of Buddhism through maritime trade routes. This installation is scheduled to open in 2019 at the Maritime Museums of Hong Kong and Sydney. It will travel to a number of other museums in Taiwan, China, Europe and North America. His lectures in this series are a report of his exploration of cultural features in the study of Buddhist history and thought.