Alexandria Digital Research Library

Buddhists and Muslims in Ladakh : negotiating tradition and modernity

Singh, Rohit
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Religious Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Jose I. Cabezon
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Regional studies and Religion
Religion and Identity
Religion and Modernity
Religion and Temporality
Online resources and Dissertations, Academic
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

Drawing on historical, textual, and ethnographic data, this dissertation examines how Buddhists and Muslims in Ladakh employ public religious ceremonies to create, sustain, and redefine identity in response to modernity. In my analysis of public ceremonies, I argue that both religious and secular conceptions of time are foundational to how Ladakhis articulate their collective identities and draw distinctions between various social and religious groups.

The first part of this dissertation, chapters one and two, surveys the history of Ladakh's transition into the Indian nation-state and the rise of modern politics in the region; here, I focus on new discourses on nationalism, modernity, and secularism. Through these discourses, Ladakhis construct political identities as citizens of the Indian nation who view themselves as partaking in world history, a history featuring an ethos of development and progress.

In chapters three through eight, I provide ethnographic cases studies of five public ceremonies in the region. Chapters three and four focus on the Shi'i Muslim ceremonies of Eid al-Ghadeer and Muharram. Chapters five through eight explore the Buddhist ceremonies of Losar, Dosmoche, and the Kalachakra initiation. In these chapters, I demonstrate that in the context of their respective ceremonies, Ladakhi Buddhists and Muslims form intersubjective notions of self and other in relation to religious and secular conceptions of time.

I place my research in dialogue with scholarship on religion and public life in South Asia. My central thesis is that public ceremonies enable Ladakhis to negotiate and navigate between heterogeneous conceptions selfhood and otherness, often situating themselves in liminal times and spaces between the local and global, the traditional and modern, the religious and the secular. As South Asian communities engage with problems and prospects of modernity, Ladakhis demonstrate that public religious events, while making reference to diverse temporal frameworks, both religious and secular, will continue to foster increasingly multidimensional and intersubjective identities.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (641 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Rohit Singh
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