About this event
The state of Bihar (the “land of vihara”) is frequently lauded by Indian political leaders and Buddhist teachers as the “land of origins” and/or homeland of Buddhism that has given rise to a pan-Asian, if not, global religious movement. Outside of the obvious economic benefits generated by Buddhist pilgrimage and religious tourism in Bodh Gaya, there remains a deep disconnect and cultural divide among efforts to rebuild an Indian Buddhist sangha, and the sacred power inscribed on the landscape by extra-national Buddhist communities and diasporic groups, like the Tibetans. Drawing on ethnographic research this paper will examine how some of the Dalit villages located a short distance from the Mahabodhi Temple encapsulate the diverse expressions, meanings and contradictions of Indian Buddhism in the early twenty-first century.
David Geary is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Community, Culture and Global Studies Department at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). He has held research and teaching positions at IIAS (Leiden), the Antioch University Buddhist Studies Program in Bodh Gaya, India, and at the University of Oxford. His research interests include pilgrimage, tourism and diaspora, the spatial politics of UNESCO World Heritage, Buddhism, modernity and the transnational politics of revival in contemporary India. He is the author of The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya: Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site (Global South Asia Series, University of Washington Press, 2017).
Organized by the Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster, in collaboration with the Centre for India and South Asia Research and
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society (何鴻毅家族基金佛學與當代社會課程)