LRCCS Noon Lecture Series | Architectural Versus Improvisational Thinking: Hut/Tent-Building Practices of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in Post-Mao China
Tibetan Buddhist revivalism in post-Mao China has been largely discussed in a discourse-oriented and male-lama-focused framework that Dr. Cho calls “architectural thinking.” This framework leads us to systematically ignore the presence and material practices of the nuns who are the major participants in the making of this revivalism. By drawing on ethnographic observations of the nuns’ daily improvisational building practices in Yachen, she shows how the nuns confront strict governmental spatial restrictions by restructuring the concepts of dwelling and building. I see the nuns’ improvisation in building their huts and tents as reflecting a lifetime of preparedness that is deeply rooted in the gender hierarchies of both Tibetan society and the Tibetan monastic system.
Yasmin Cho is a postdoctoral fellow in the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. She received a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University in 2015. Her interests lie primarily in the anthropological understanding of religion with an emphasis on the relationship between materiality and gender in Buddhism. She is currently revising her book manuscript that addresses the mobilities and material engagements of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in post-Mao Buddhist revivalism.