Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationPittsburgh, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9269
Approve DateApril 11, 2016
Project TitlePriyadarshini, Aanmona, U. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA - To aid research on 'Shattered Sacred, Broken Lives: Violence against Religious Sites in Bangladesh,' supervised by Dr. Robert M. Hayden
AANMONA PRIYADARSHINI, then a graduate student at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on “Shattered Sacred, Broken Lives: Violence against Religious Sites in Bangladesh,” supervised by Dr. Robert M. Hayden. On September 2012, eighteen Buddhist bihars were destroyed in three Muslim majority sub districts –Ramu, Ukhia, Patia – of Bangladesh. The destruction of bihars and sacred objects was followed by the reconstruction of destroyed bihars, as tourist attractions, by the Bangladesh government. Considering both destruction and reconstruction of bihars as processes of “ruination,” the research focuses on the rubble of violence – reconstructed bihars, broken pieces of Buddha and sacred objects – and examines the way they shape religious practices, ethics, and social relations. The research asserts that religious practices are not mere evidence of something immaterial, such as beliefs. Rather, they engage material forms –temples, statues, objects –through which they enter into social life. Material forms, in turn, are also subject to cultural constructions and have their own social lives. They persist across contexts, and acquire new features to which people respond in new ways. The research examines what happen when sacred objects and sites are destroyed or forcefully modified and how they give rise new interpretations and interactions. This research traces different social lives of the rubble of sacred sites and objects, along with the new meanings, practices, ethics, and social relations they produce in the process of destruction and reconstruction.