A "stupendous attraction" : materialising a Tibetan Buddhist contact zone in rural Australia

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Christine Dureau en
dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Karen Nero en
dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Tracey McIntosh en
dc.contributor.author McAra, Sally, 1967- en
dc.date.accessioned 2009-09-11T02:14:02Z en
dc.date.available 2009-09-11T02:14:02Z en
dc.date.issued 2009 en
dc.identifier.citation Thesis (PhD--Anthropology)--University of Auckland, 2009. en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/5234 en
dc.description.abstract When people, ideas or things migrate across cultural milieux, many opportunities for cultural transformation arise. The focal point of this thesis is a large stupa/temple (Great Stupa) being built at Atisha Centre, a Buddhist retreat near Bendigo in Australia, by members of an international organisation called the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). I approach the planning, promotion and construction of the stupa as an instance of the transplantation of religious material culture, arguing that Atisha Centre and particularly the stupa play a constitutive role by acting as a contact zone (Pratt 1992). Since the Centre is a site of alternate social ordering in which the Buddhists attempt to actualise their universalist ideals in a specific place, I also conceptualise it as a heterotopia (Foucault 1986, Hetherington 1997). The contact zone entails engagement between different socio-cultural domains. One of the key domains is the globalisation of contemporary Buddhism and its permutations in new locales. Stemming from this is the question of how the Buddhists and their imported material culture engage with wider concerns such as various non-FPMT Buddhist, Anglo- Australian and Aboriginal locals’ responses towards the transplantation of a Tibetan temple into a rural Australian locale. The complex and shifting relationships between different kinds of Buddhism feature in relation to different ideas about the value of holy objects. The FPMT conforms to the enlightenment-oriented ideals of “Buddhist modernism” (McMahan 2008) but appears to depart from it in its pronounced emphasis on merit-making and holy objects. However, the project’s proponents consider the stupa a method for enacting their enlightenment aspirations. I attribute the stupa project’s relatively smooth passage through local planning application procedures to proponents’ prior social and cultural capital, which I link to positive public perceptions of Buddhism, aspirations for Bendigo to become more culturally diverse and the economic development the stupa is expected to bring. The literally concrete structure of the stupa not only provides Buddhists with a tangible focal point for their ideals, but also serves as a vehicle for the establishment of Tibetan Buddhism in a new land. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA1920015 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title A "stupendous attraction" : materialising a Tibetan Buddhist contact zone in rural Australia en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Anthropology en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.subject.marsden Fields of Research::370000 Studies in Human Society::370300 Anthropology en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
pubs.local.anzsrc 1601 - Anthropology en
pubs.org-id Faculty of Arts en


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