Episode 15 – Marcus Evans, Teaching Hip Hop and Buddhist Studies

Description

Marcus Evans teaches courses on Asian religions at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, exploring new perspectives and incorporating different voices that help students access and interpret old texts. His teaching integrates and combines classical Buddhist works and contrasts and compares these with the works of modern hip hop artists, helping students to see ways that art, literature, and religion evolve and respond in interrelated ways. In this episode, Sarah Richardson asks him about his research and how he brings fresh voices and perspectives into conversation, taking these as strategies for greater student inclusion and antiracist teaching in the University.

 

Quotes

The Bhagavad Gita means the Song of the Lord. These brothers, way back in the ancient days, they were rhyming. They were kicking raps.” Marcus Evans 

“I wanted them to see if they can pick up on this notion of change in itself and how change and impermanence support a Buddhist concept, because that was something that was very subtle in the lyrics.” Marcus Evans

“I decided to incorporate black American voices into this [course]. I was thinking about it in a way of decentering whiteness and looking at the narrative of transmission of Asian texts to North America by decentering the white gaze.” Marcus Evans

“Which voices can I bring in to challenge the standard way that we do it? This is effective in itself, even in just the people that we attract to the course.” Marcus Evans

“You know, when I taught my course the Great Books of Asian Religions, it was so fascinating because when I looked into the audience it was the first time that I saw a lot of black in the audience, I had never really seen that in a religious studies course.” Marcus Evans

Music References

RZA 

Wu-Tang Clan

Nicki Minaj 

T.I., “I Believe” https://youtu.be/0GsVTsuPyOg

Killer Mike 

KRS-One

Tina Turner

Dead Prez, “Learning, Growing, Changing.” https://youtu.be/ttHukW70TAM 

Stic.man, The Workout, 2011. https://open.spotify.com/album/5LHhOmal06SQEBREgV7hR1?si=ikA7LKDlQWuy_lkW3AMwIQ 

Dead Prez, Let’s Get Free, 2000. https://open.spotify.com/album/7gXuElmegVReY7imkb5bf8?si=ubkZ20qGTX6UYWJzsjrbyg 

Dead Prez, Information Age, 2013. https://open.spotify.com/album/1ctEzpKcYukYAOXpyXx7C9?si=WNdJii0qQkmk4-zNcb7CVg 

Links to articles and books

Marcus Evans, PhD Candidate at McMaster University https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/people/evans-marcus

James Robson. “Daoism.” In Norton Anthology of World Religions, edited by James Miles. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.  https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/563049/the-norton-anthology-of-world-religions-daoism-by-james-robson/9780393355000 

Malory Nye. Religion: The Basics. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008.  https://www.routledge.com/Religion-The-Basics/Nye/p/book/9780415449489

 KRS-One. Ruminations: A Philosophical Outlook on Urban Hip-Hop. New York, NY: Welcome Rain Publishers, 2003. https://www.amazon.com/KRS-ONE-Ruminations/dp/1566492742 

KRS One. The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument. Brooklyn, NY: PowerHouse Books, 2009. https://powerhousebooks.com/books/the-gospel-of-hip-hop-first-instrument/  

Ellie Hisama. “‘We’re All Asian Really’: Hip Hop’s Afro-Asian Crossings.” In Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies, edited by Ellie Hisama and Evan Rapport, 1–21. Brooklyn, NY: Institute for Studies in American Music, 2005.

Bill V. Mullen. Afro-Orientalism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.  https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/afro-orientalism 

Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. “Black Bodies/Yellow Masks: The Orientalist Aesthetic in Hip-hop and Black Visual Culture.” In Afro-Asian Encounters, edited by Heike Raphael-Hernandez and Shannon Steen, pp. 188–203. New York, NY, New York University Press, 2006.  https://www.jstor.org/stable/40301281 

Christopher M. Driscoll and Monica R. Miller. Method as Identity: Manufacturing Distance in the Academic Study of Religion. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019. https://www.amazon.ca/Method-Identity-Manufacturing-Distance-Academic/dp/149856562X

Adeana McNicholl. “Being Buddha, Staying Woke: Racial Formation in Black Buddhist Writing.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86, no. 4 (December 2018): 883–911. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfy019 

Ann Gleig https://dib.harvard.edu/event/ann-gleig-undoing-whiteness-american-buddhist-modernism