Identities in Situ: The Contested Sacred Sites of Nepal


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


South and Southeast Asian Studies


This project examines the pilgrimage literature, paintings, and practices of the Newar Buddhists of the Kathmandu Valley, from the fifteenth century to the present. After Buddhism had largely been eclipsed in South Asia by the fourteenth century, Mahāyāna Buddhism persisted in the isolated pocket of the Kathmandu Valley, co-existing in complex ways alongside the Hindu traditions. Crucial for understanding the history of how Newars have shaped their Buddhist identity, the substantial body of textual and visual materials pertaining to "tīrthas," or sacred pilgrimage sites, has been neglected in scholarly literature. The study of these sources will lead to a fuller understanding of Buddhist pilgrimage and narrative literature, enriching our awareness of the survival of Buddhism in South Asia.