Seminar 4 March – Urmila Nair

February 27th, 2014 by

Mond Building Seminar Room

All welcome


Tuesday 4 March

Urmila Nair

MIASU, University of Cambridge

Elision and Imagination: Shifting Monastic Subjectivities in Tibetan Exile

Via a study of voices, this paper discusses how Buddhist ritual shapes, and is shaped by, historically contingent subjectivities. The Nechung kang-so (bskang gso) ritual is performed by Tibetan monks in exile. Imagination is a key ritual act, and elisions are crucial to ritual design, the elisions being of ritual actor and action, whereby efficacy is designed to obtain independent of particular actors. Many monks in exile being relatively unschooled in the monastery’s traditions, their imaginings of elisions, and the poetics thereof, often diverge from prescriptive imaginings. Furthermore, their imaginings involve modern exilic imaginaries, beyond the ritual’s traditional horizon. Their imaginings, arising from subjectivities forged in exile, thus shape the ritual. To discern how the ritual shapes monastic subjectivities, I offer a reading thereof through the lens of a Buddhist conceptual pair, the (re)valuations of which, in ritual and its related contexts, indicate the ritual’s shaping of monastic subjectivities.

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