The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya
Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site
- PUBLISHED: November 2017
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / South Asia, Anthropology, Environmental Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 264 Pages, 6 x 9 in x 0in, 22 b&w illus., 1 map
- SERIES: Global South Asia
- ISBN: 9780295742373
This multilayered historical ethnography of Bodh Gaya — the place of Buddha’s enlightenment in the north Indian state of Bihar — explores the spatial politics surrounding the transformation of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex into a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. The rapid change from a small town based on an agricultural economy to an international destination that attracts hundreds of thousands of Buddhist pilgrims and visitors each year has given rise to a series of conflicts that foreground the politics of space and meaning among Bodh Gaya’s diverse constituencies.
David Geary examines the modern revival of Buddhism in India, the colonial and postcolonial dynamics surrounding archaeological heritage and sacred space, and the role of tourism and urban development in India.
Authors & Contributors
David Geary is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He is the coeditor of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Buddhist Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka.
Note on Translation and Transliteration
Map of Bodh Gaya
1. The Light of Asia
2. Rebuilding the Navel of the Earth
3. The Afterlife of Zamindari
4. Tourism in the Global Bazaar
5. A Master Plan for World Heritage
Readers that are interested in Indian history and current affairs, as well as those curious about the heritage management aspects of a World Heritage designation will surely enjoy this book .- World Heritage Site Blog
[W]ith a long and wide-open lens, he explores Bodh Gaya's overlapping histories, governance and land reform struggles, and the religio-ethnic complexities at work in its centuries-old place making...He tacks among the global, national, and hyperlocal forces that have shaped Bodh Gaya's built environment, sought to reclaim India's Buddhist heritage, and formed a dense network of pan-Asian Buddhists that dominate the ritual life of Bodh Gaya, often in tension with local authorities and Hindu and Muslim residents.- American Ethnologist
The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya is a model ethnography that conveys, in attractively simple prose, the inevitable clash of scales and perspectives (high ideals, base commercial interests, hopes, and fears) that confront each other in one small town in Bihar -- where the Buddha happens to have achieved enlightenment.- David N. Gellner, University of Oxford
I read this book with great delight. Geary’s argument to go beyond viewing Bodh Gaya as a tourist site to one of global connection is an important and timely one as a transnational Buddhist public culture is flourishing across Asia.- Justin Thomas McDaniel, author of Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words: Histories of Buddhist Monastic Education in Laos and Thailand
Pathbreaking. This comprehensive treatment of Bodh Gaya as a center of religious pilgrimage and heritage tourism contextualizes exactly how this small town in India captured such a position of primacy within a global, transnational imaginary of Buddhist heritage.- Andrea Marion Pinkney, associate professor of Asian religions, McGill University