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Tibetan Theories of Materiality Apropos the Jowo Śākyamuni

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Cameron David Warner - Lecturer

In recent decades, anthropology has returned to its earliest motivations to study the sociality of humans in
relation to their material world. Many theories have been proposed, culminating recently in scholars
advocating that rather than translate others’ things into our own perspective on the world, we ought to allow
our perspective to be radically shifted by their alterity. This is in fact a premise that many historians of Asian
religions and anthropologists of Asia have long taken for granted.
In this presentation, I will present a series of Tibetan theories of materiality that all arise out of the 1000
years of Tibetan veneration of their national palladium, the Jowo Śākyamuni. For example, how can a single
thing simultaneously embody the multidimensionality of the Buddha’s body? How does appearance relate to
intersubjective power? And why are we compelled through our devotion to change that which we desire to
preserve? If we follow anthropological theories about materiality, there is much to learn about Tibetan
culture through the Jowo. But rather, what can we learn about materiality from what the Jowo himself can
teach us?
3 Feb 2017

Event (Seminar)

TitleAnthropologie comparée du bouddhisme
Date03/02/2017 → …
LocationCentre d'études himalayennes, CNRS


  • materiality, jowo, tibet, buddhism, anthropology

ID: 116513725