Jens Reinke's research explores the emergence of modern and contemporary socially engaged Chinese Mahayana religiosities from a spatial perspective. Applying an ethnographic as well as a historical lens allows him to identify the global entanglements of modern and contemporary Buddhism, but also shows how dynamics that span multiple localities are shaped by specific national and regional histories. Jens Reinke's research thereby adds to the study of religion in the global sinosphere, while also contributing to a broader understanding of how religious border-crossings and transnational mobilities shape the conditions of religions in the era of global modernity.
Queering Taiwan's Mahayana: Guanyin, Recitation, and Vegetarianism
This research project examines discourses and practices around Buddhism and lgbtq+ in Taiwan. I am interested in exploring how minority Buddhists from a variety of traditions and backgrounds apply the Dharma as a tool for spiritual care. When it comes to contemporary social issues, Buddhist mainstream organizations in Taiwan tend to keep a low profile or even hold a conservative position. The project asks how LGBTQI+ Buddhists negotiate prejudice and discrimination within their tradition with their Buddhist identity. I am particularly interested in learning how LGBTQI+ Buddhists use cultivation tools from the Chinese Mahayana tradition–not just mindfulness and meditation but also Mahayana thought, ritual, recitation, and other practices–to ease their trauma. The aim of the project is to complement western-centric conceptions of Buddhist spiritual care and situate the issue within a more global perspective.
Buddhist Bricolages in the Southern Sinosphere: The Southbound Transnationalism of Taiwanese Buddhists
Taiwanese Buddhist organizations have developed over many parts of the globe. Jens Reinke's current research project continues to explore the transnationalism of Taiwanese Buddhist religiosities, yet it does so by focusing on Southeast Asia. His second book project aims to explore transnational Buddhist entanglements between Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Today as in the past, the South China Sea region constitutes an important contact zone for the development of Buddhism in Asia. Modern and contemporary Buddhist encounters within this contact zone are shaped by the history of European and Japanese colonialism, processes of Asian nation state building, Chinese state policies towards diaspora communities, inner Asian trade and migration, monastic and lay Buddhist networks, and tourism. All of which have shape the various entanglements Taiwanese Buddhists uphold with the region today. By studying the multifaceted linkages between Buddhists in both regions, he challenges an understanding of Buddhism as being comprised of clearly distinct meta-traditions such as Theravada or Mahayana or traditions that are linked to a particular ethnicity or nation-state. Instead his research shifts the attention to the role of junctures, mobilities, hybridity, and exchanges for the development of modern and contemporary Buddhist religiosities in Asia.