My journey towards spiritual ecology in Taiwan: Some cases from Huan-Bao (environmental protection) and TEK (traditional ecological knowledge)

Key information

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Main Building, SOAS University of London, 10 Thornhaugh St, London WC1H 0XG
Event type

About this event

This talk is related to issues about religion and ecology in Taiwan. 

Reflecting upon my action research upon Taiwanese Buddhists’ environmental practices and indigenous peoples’ ecological knowledge for over three decades, I argue a spiritual ecology is emerging from local people’s material practices and their engaging complex social relations that are both immanent and transcendental. 

Spirituality is often regarded as non-material, abstract and out of social context. However, in my cases I would argue otherwise. In other words, I would illustrate whether it’s Buddhists’ Huan-Bao(literally environmental protection) practices or indigenous peoples’ usage of natural resources, their ecological views are closely connected to where, when, how and what they are situated with. 

More importantly, the rise of Buddhists and indigenous peoples’ ecological thinking are strongly influenced by the social change of Taiwan and her political transformation towards democracy. 

The spirituality derived from the social engagement of Buddhists and indigenous peoples in Taiwan marks a distinctive ecological meaning from the early 1990s until now. 

This talk will be divided into four parts: (1) A brief history of environmental awareness in Taiwan; (2) Buddhists’ engagement with environmental issues since 1990s; (3) the rise of indigenous ecological discourse since 2000s; (4) the spirituality of Taiwan’s Buddhists and indigenous peoples and its social meanings. The talk will conclude with a contribution upon Taiwan’s environmental movement from a religious point of view.

Meet the speaker

Professor Yih-Ren Lin 

Yih-Ren Lin is a Taiwanese scholar of ecological humanities and an environmental activist for indigenous peoples’ natural resources rights. He is now the professor of the Graduate Institute of Museum Studies, Taipei National University of the Arts. Professor Yih-Ren Lin gained his “nature conservation” master degree in the Department of Biology, UCL. 

He finished the PhD at the Department of Geography, UCL at 1999 and the thesis titled “The Environmental Beliefs and Practices of Taiwanese Buddhists”. By employing participatory action research methodology, he has worked with Taiwan’s indigenous peoples on the issues of co-management of natural resources, land rights, traditional territory, participatory mapping, eco-spirituality, climate justice and traditional ecological knowledge. 

He has written professional papers and popular critique articles extensively and interdisciplinary. Currently, he is engaging with the discourse and practices of eco-museum and issues related to natural heritage and indigenous artifacts repatriation.