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Mongolian Buddhist Waste and the Recalcitrant Materiality of Blessings.

Project description

Waste created by Buddhist rituals and economic exchanges

Buddhism is often considered to be a religion defined by its explicit counsel against excessive desire and consumption. However, the use of mass-produced ritual items are changing patterns of Buddhist consumption, excess and waste in the contemporary period. The EU-funded RESIDUE project will trace the social lives of Mongolian Buddhist ritual items in order to demonstrate how the recent shift towards making ritual items from imperishable materials is transforming Buddhist praxis. The project will combine theories from anthropology, Buddhist studies and discard studies to explore how the material properties of ritual items, rather than being incidental to their use and conception, are integral to Mongolian Buddhist beliefs and practices. It will provide new insights into the generation and treatment of discarded items, drawing attention to the contemporary problems that industrial-scale consumption patterns are producing in Asia and around the world.

Objective

The objective of this project is to demonstrate how the imperishable materials, that Buddhist ritual items are now predominantly made of, are transforming Buddhist praxis in the contemporary period. Although Buddhism is often considered to be a religion defined by its lack of consumerist drive, this research will highlight the ways in which Buddhist ritual practices generate consumption, waste, and excess. Utilising the ethnographic methodology of ‘following the thing’, it will trace the social lives of Mongolian Buddhist ritual items from the doubts that surround their efficacy at purchase, to their troublesome persistence after use. This project will highlight the dynamic by which Buddhist purification rituals generate ecological and spiritual pollution. Utilizing theories from Anthropology, Buddhist Studies, Discard Studies and interdisciplinary studies exploring human life in the Anthropocene, this project will generate a robust theoretical framework to demonstrate how the material properties of ritual items, rather than being incidental to their use and conception, are integral to Mongolian Buddhist beliefs and practices. This project complements, and is complemented by, the changing research trajectory of the Buddhism, Business and Believers project at The University of Copenhagen’s Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, as it shifts its attention from Buddhist economic entanglements to the waste that is created by Buddhist economic exchanges. By exploring the seeming non-sequitur of ‘Buddhist waste’, this research will provide new insights into the generation and treatment of waste, drawing attention to the contemporary problems that industrial-scale consumption patterns are producing in Asia and around the world. The project will support my development as an expert within this critical field, as I work to address important issues facing Mongolians and EU citizens, both in the academy and within public discourse.

Coordinator

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 219 312,00
Address
NORREGADE 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Denmark

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Region
Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 219 312,00