Associate Professor of Religious Studiesecb2j@virginia.edu
Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Committee for the Study of Religion at Harvard University
B.A., University of Georgia
Burmese (Myanmar) Buddhism; Burmese traditions of meditation and the transformations of meditative practices as they spread around the world.
South and Southeast Asian Buddhisms
Buddhism and the Modern World
Buddhism in America
Erik’s main area of study is Burmese (Myanmar) Buddhism. He have been especially interested in Burmese traditions of meditation and, following from that, in the transformations of meditative practices (and the understandings of reality they convey explicitly and implicitly) as they spread around the world. His first book, The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Chicago, 2013), explores the origins of mass insight meditation in Burma in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was a winner of the Toshihide Numata book prize in Buddhism in 2014. Currently, he is at work on a book project, tentatively titled A Great Awakening, that explores the role of insight practice in contemporary reformulations of notions about the self and society within the globalized insight meditation scene. He is also co-editing a volume with David McMahan, now under contract with Oxford University Press, that explores meditation and science from the perspective of humanistic scholarship.