Dissemination of global and local forms of Tibetan Buddhist knowledge in the Russian Federation (2009 – 2011) (completed)
This post-doctoral project seeks to understand the tensions between global and national forms of Tibetan Buddhism in Russia, by tracing how and under what institutional conditions knowledge about Buddhism is produced and disseminated in the Russian Federation. Due to the limited contacts between Russian Buddhists and the global Buddhist community during the Soviet era, a situation developed in which a small, local, ethnically marked form of Tibetan Buddhism is coming into sudden contact with globally circulated forms of what is nominally the “same” religion, but which center around very different forms of practice. The penetration of post-Soviet space by Western-originating Buddhist texts and organizations intersects with anxieties about market reform, and discourses about Russia’s position as between both East and West, revealing links between religious globalization and wider social processes. Methodologically, I intend to investigate this question by examining the material conditions of knowledge production. Fieldwork will trace how books and other materials about Buddhism are translated and published in Russian, document how these projects are funded and how texts are distributed, as well as examine perceptions of these texts by both those who produce them and those who consume them, in this case, Buryat Buddhists in Ulan-Ude. Tracing the process of how information about Buddhism circulates in the Russian Federation will provide a concrete means of tracing the globalization of knowledge, and through knowledge, imagined communities.