Associate Professor of the History of Religions; Associate Faculty in South Asian Languages and Civilizations; also in the College
MA, MPhil, PhD (Columbia University)
Christian Wedemeyer is an historian of religions whose interests comprehend theory and method in the human sciences, the history of modern scholarship on religion and culture, and issues of history, textuality, and ritual in the Buddhist traditions. Within these very general domains, much of his research has concerned the esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism of India and Tibet. He has written on the modern historiography of Tantric Buddhism; antinomianism in the Indian esoteric traditions; canonicity, textual criticism, and strategies of legitimating authority in classical Tibetan scholasticism; and the semiology of esoteric Buddhist ritual.
His most recent book, Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions (Columbia University Press, 2012), received the 2013 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Historical Studies). Previously, he authored a text-critical study of one of the principal Indian works on esoteric praxis: Āryadeva’s Lamp that Integrates the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa): The Gradual Path of Vajrayāna Buddhism according to the Esoteric Community Noble Tradition (critically edited Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, annotated English translation, and study; American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2007). He has coedited three volumes: Tibetan Buddhist Literature and Praxis: Studies in its Formative Period, 900 – 1400 (Brill 2006, with Ronald M. Davidson), Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade (Oxford 2010, with Wendy Doniger), and In Vimalakīrti’s House: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert A.F. Thurman on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday (AIBS 2015, with John D. Dunne and Thomas F. Yarnall).
He is currently working on a collection of translations of ritual texts related to the Guhyasamāja Tantra and is developing a monograph on commentarial practices in Tantric Buddhism.
His course offerings include Classical Theories of Religion, Contemporary Perspectives on the History of Religions, Introduction to Religion and the Human Sciences, Indian Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Mahayana Sutra Literature, Issues in Indian Esoteric Buddhism, Tibetan Auto/biography, Buddhism in the Americas, and Ritual in South Asian Buddhism.
A Dean's Forum on Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions by Christian K. Wedemeyer, Associate Professor of the History of Religions. Jeffrey Stackert, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, and Brook A. Ziporyn, Professor of Chinese Religion, Philosophy, and Comparative Thought, responding.
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Christian Wedemeyer is one of the current editors of History of Religions.
Anthropology and Sociology of Religion
AASR 32900 Classical Theories of Religion
AASR 42907 Contemporary Theories of Religion
History of Religions
HREL 32900 Classical Theories of Religion
HREL 42907 Contemporary Theories of Religion
HREL 44400 Tibetan Auto/biography
HREL 44701 Ritual in South Asian Buddhism
HREL 50810 Indian Tantrisms
Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture
RLIT 44400 Tibetan Auto/biography
Professor Wedemeyer has received the 2013 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) for his 2012 title, Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions (Columbia University Press). The Awards for Excellence recognizes new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion, and honor books of distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity, and importance; books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted. Read more.