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Public Lecture: Labor and Money in Yachen Gar: The Role of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in a Monastic Economy
May 11, 2017 - 13:00-15:00
It is widely assumed that one of the primary economic drivers of revivalism has been the explosive growth in donations offered by middle-class Han Chinese disciples from urban centers. Interestingly, however, Chinese donors often send their money directly to individual lamas (usually their Tibetan shangshi), rather than to the institutions with which these lamas are associated. Thus, such donations provide only a partial explanation for the enduring economic sustainability of the large monastic communities in Tibet. These communities, in fact, rely heavily on limitless free labor, both spiritual and physical, by the nuns, and the ongoing influx of small remittances that the nuns bring in from their families. I argue that the microeconomic activities of the nuns (consumption, circulations of goods and money, and small business practices, etc.) play a significant role in the success of the current Buddhist revivalism in China.
Dr. Yasmin Cho, she received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in 2015. She is currently completing a book manuscript addressing the religious mobilities and material engagements of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in their building of a mega-sized monastic encampment called Yachen Gar in northwestern Sichuan province.