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History India & South Asia

The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya

Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site

by (author) David Geary

series edited by K. Sivaramakrishnan, Padma Kaimal & Anand A. Yang

University of Washington Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
India & South Asia, General, History
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price

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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.

About the authors

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 (Routledge, 2012).

David Geary's profile page

Kalyanakrishnan "Shivi" Sivaramakrishnan is Dinakar Singh Professor of India and South Asia Studies, professor of anthropology, professor of forestry and environmental studies, and codirector of the Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University.

K. Sivaramakrishnan's profile page

Padma Kaimal is Batza Professor of Art and Art History at Colgate University. She is the author of Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis (Association for Asian Studies, 2013) and Opening Kailasanatha: The Temple in Kanchipuram Revealed in Time and Space (Washington, 2021).

Padma Kaimal's profile page

Anand A. Yang is professor of international studies and history at the University of Washington. He is the author of Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Gangetic Bihar (University of California Press, 1998); translator and editor of Thirteen Months in China: A Subaltern Indian and the Colonial World (Oxford University Press); and coeditor of Interactions: Transregional Perspectives on World History (University of Hawai'i Press, 2005).

Anand A. Yang's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"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

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