I noticed this OP was from 2015, so I decided to check out the last two years of programs (171 pages of sessions each year!) and among the about 4 dozen sessions on Buddhism each year, here’s what I found:
- In 2018 only one session mentioned the EBTs: “From Rape Texts to Bro Buddhism: Critical Canonical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Sexual Abuse Scandals in Western Buddhism”
- And this year, there’s a session called “Back to basics: What is Dharma?” discussing the Abhidhamma, which is kind of early, I guess? At least it’s in the canon!
So yeah, still pretty disappointing four years later.
Comparing to other religions:
- The Bible is mentioned in 48 session descriptions this year
- the Quran in 14 (out of about 40 sessions on Islam)
- the Torah in 1 (out of about 10 Jewish sessions)
- the Pali Canon: 1 / 44 sessions
So. I take away a couple things:
- There is still a bias against the EBTs compared to the foundational texts of other religions.
- The conference is heavily Christian.
Now, as to explanatory notes, I can only venture a few guesses, but I would lay the blame more on the anthropologization of the study of Oriental Religions™️ than on a desire to appease Mahayana partisans. Many of the Buddhist sessions were on “exotic” Mahayana forms (“Pāla Period Buddhism and its Himalayan Legacy”, “Liberating Animals in Medieval China”, etc), but most of the sessions on Buddhism seemed to be of the form “Buddhism and _____” (food, pedagogy, modernity, feminism, Christianity, etc, etc), that is to say: explicitly about enabling non-Buddhists to appropriate "Buddhist Wisdom"™️
Only a few sessions (compared to Christianity) seemed geared to practicing Buddhists (“Buddhism in the West Roundtable”) and even among those, they were often geared towards Christian (!) Buddhists (“ Buddhist-Christian Dual Practice and Belonging”)
But don’t worry, they had a session on “Decolonial/Anti-Racist Interventions in Tibetan/ Buddhist Studies” hahahaha