Buddhist Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2 (2010)

Monastic Economic Reform at Rong-bo Monastery: Towards an Understanding of Contemporary Tibetan Monastic Revival and development in A-mdo

Jane Caple
Issued Date: 25 Jan 2011

Abstract


Scholarly focus on the political relationship between monasteries and the state has obscured other dynamics in the post-Mao revival and development of dGe-lugs-pa monasticism in China and led to its marginalization in wider discussions about Buddhism in the contemporary world. The present article seeks to broaden our understanding by examining economic reforms at a monastery in A-mdo. Based on fieldwork conducted 2008-2009, it argues that while recent monastic economic developments converge with state policies, monks’ narratives place agency for reforms within the monastic community and present impetus for reform as a moral issue. Consideration of the moral dimension of reforms, drawing on Sayer’s conception of moral economy, allows for a thicker understanding of contemporary monastic development which takes into account dynamics that extend beyond monastic interactions with the political and hegemonic power of the Chinese state.

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DOI: 10.1558/bsrv.v27i2.197

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