My name is Christopher Kelley and I am a scholar of Buddhism, a part-time associate professor in religious studies, and event organizer.
I received a PhD degree in Religion from Columbia University where I studied Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with Robert A. F. Thurman. I currently teach classes in the religious studies program at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School University.
I like to engage in the kind of discourse that the pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty dubbed "abnormal"— ideas and practices that have the potential to de-center and disrupt one’s reified notions about themselves and the world around them. I value a pragmatic approach that recognizes the primacy of subjective experience and the importance of practical application.
Pragmatism has also led me to pursue interdisciplinary discourse outside the classroom. I am the creator and director of a number of different kinds of avant-garde events aimed at pushing the larger conversation on a particular topic or issue in a new and unforeseen direction.
This past spring, for instance, I conceived and directed FluxBuddha: A Disruption of Time & Identity. For this project I assembled a team of over fifty creative souls and staged performance art events throughout the galleries and exhibition halls of the Rubin Museum of Art. Our goal was to disrupt static notions of time and identity through distinct performance art pieces inspired by both traditional Buddhist art forms (i.e. “sand mandala”) and the Fluxus-“happenings” performance art movements in New York City (that were themselves deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism).
I am seasoned in teaching and developing unique courses that interface Buddhism with ideas and discourse from western ethics, comparative philosophy and literature, cognitive science, art, and more. I align myself with the tradition of American Buddhists, like Allen Ginsberg, who found creative expression in the assimilation of Buddhist ideas and practices into popular culture and art. My interests span a variety of fields including: music, interdisciplinary performance art, western literature & philosophy, ethics & human rights, psychedelic science & humanities, palliative care & dying, technology, mystical experience, dark comedy, and art.
I have presented papers at a host of academic conferences including: the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), The American Philosophical Association (APA), The International Symposia for Contemplative Studies, The Annual Meeting of Comparative & Continental Philosophy, The Annual Meeting of the Society for Asian & Comparative Philosophy, and more. I have also been invited to give lectures at institutions such as: The Rubin Museum of Art, The Asia Society in Houston, The Wang Center at Stonybrook University, The STRAND Bookstore, and elsewhere.
The details of my work can found in the pages of this website. And there is a link to my CV below.
Peace, Love, and Chicken Grease,