Workshop – Biodegradable Blessings: Prayer Flags and Ephemeral Materiality in Indigenous Himalayas

This event is hybrid. However you choose to attend, please  register here. In person attendees will be asked to follow all current UBC pandemic health guidelines in response to COVID 19. In person attendees can join us in the Asian Studies Auditorium – 1871 West Mall, Vancouver, BC | V6T 1Z2.

This interdisciplinary workshop will connect three different methods: firstly, the study of material religion; secondly, scholarly conversations around Buddhist communities and climate change; and thirdly, doing community-based collaborative projects in Buddhist studies. The workshop will guide participants in creating biodegradable prayer flags as a way for them to think about the connected issues of sustainability and waste in global ecosystems, and also as a way to consider the importance of traditional craft knowledge as a method for the study of Buddhism.

We will discuss historical examples of prayer flag materials and texts, and reflect on how these aspirations have changed over time to reflect contemporary concerns. We will also discuss work with community-based organizations in India and Nepal who are engaged with the creation of biodegradable prayer flags and consider the broader implications of these debates for Indigenous futures in the Himalayas.



Dr. Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia is a visiting fellow in the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California.

He is from west Sikkim, and works on the more-than-human histories of the Kanchendzonga region that he grew up in.

He is currently working on a monograph on the environmental history of Sikkimese Buddhism and is engaged in making biodegradable prayer flags for local communities.



This lecture is sponsored by the RHNHFF BCS ProgramUBC Himalaya ProgramDepartment of Asian Studies, and UBC CIS Institute.

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