March 11, 2011 Joan Halifax Named Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Kluge Center

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Mary Lou Reker (202) 707-5027

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has appointed Joan Halifax, a Zen Buddhist roshi, author and anthropologist, as distinguished visiting scholar in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

While at the Kluge Center—from mid-March to mid-May 2011—Halifax will review the recently acquired archive of legendary folklorist Alan Lomax, with whom she worked in the 1960s. In addition, she will focus on her work in the end-of-life care field and will explore the Library’s historical resources regarding Buddhism in America.

Halifax is the abbot and head teacher of the Upaya Zen Center and Institute in Santa Fe, a Zen Peacemaker community which she founded in 1990. She has worked with dying people since 1970, and in 1994 she founded the Project on Being with Dying. Halifax has also founded the Ojai Foundation, the Upaya Prison Project and the National Network of Contemplative Prison Programs.

Books written by Halifax include “Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death” (2008); “The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth” (1994); and “Shaman: The Wounded Healer” (1988).

Halifax has studied with several Zen masters, including Seung Sahn and Thich Nhat Hanh. She earned a doctoral degree from Union Institute and University while working at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, where she did her field work and thesis on medical anthropology.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 11-056
ISSN 0731-3527