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ISKCON Studies Conference 2011

The Fourth ISKCON Studies Conference: Person and Community in Vaishnava Vision and Practice

Villa Vrindavana, Italy

8–11 July 2011


Following the success of its 3rd conference, on the theme of “Transmitting the Truth: Education, Preaching, and Conversion,” the ISKCON Studies Institute invites proposals for presentations at its 4th conference, to be held again in Villa Vrindavana, near Florence, Italy.

The theme of this year’s conference – Person and Community – opens areas of inquiry and reflection integral to Vaishnava thought and practice.

How do we understand the notion “person”? What sorts of assumptions and implications do we make and anticipate in holding “impersonalism” in opposition to our claimed “personalism”? In what ways do our understanding (or lack of understanding) of our personhood impact efforts to build and sustain community?

In a spiritual tradition that puts high value on devotional sanga, what do experiences of community in ISKCON offer in the way of lessons for the future or learning possibilities for other communities?

These and related questions are welcomed to be richly discussed in this conference, in a forum that cherishes a devotionally respectful and academically rigorous ethos meant to foster quality thinking in relation to concerns of ISKCON and its broader cultural, religious, and intellectual environments.

Possible topics for discussion include:

  • Philosophical or narrative treatments of “personhood” in the scriptural and commentarial corpus

  • Exploration of western forms of philosophical personalism in comparison with Vaishnava forms

  • The notion of the “individual” versus the “dividual” in contemporary anthropological thought about Indian culture

  • Articulations of relationality as a basis of personalism and community (unpacking the tradition’s notion of bhakti as the basis of personalism and community)

  • Historical developments – early Vaishnava or more recent ISKCON – in understandings and practice of “community”

  • Varnasrama: ideals, realities, fears, prospects

  • Varieties of community: Can ISKCON learn from others?

  • Dynamics of spiritual community building

  • The language and rhetoric of person and community