Building Temples, Housing Buddha

A Center for Buddhist Studies colloquium with Professor Allison Truitt of Tulane University

Friday, April 29, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM (Pacific Time)

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The proliferation of Buddhist temples across the US Gulf Coast attests to the increasing visibility of Vietnamese communities. As collective spaces of worship, temples also offer refuge for participants to mark ancestral time and celebrate national holidays. As construction sites, however, temples materialize debates over spiritual practices and ethical dispositions, including how to represent the past and imagine the future. In this talk, I draw on my ethnographic fieldwork to show how these temples, far from consolidating Buddhist subjectivities, contribute instead to pluralizing difference. 

Allison Truitt is a cultural anthropologist at Tulane University and author of two books, one edited collection, and numerous articles. Her first book,  Dreaming of Money in Ho Chi Minh City  (University of Washington 2013), examines how people in southern Vietnam handle various currencies from US dollars to gold as media for refashioning their identities in the face of globalized fields of exchange. In her second book, Pure Land in the Making (University of Washington 2021), she shifts focus to Vietnamese migrants along the US Gulf Coast to show how they use Buddhist temples as platforms for expressing forms of sociability and modes of care that emphasize collective life and memory.  

Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies