Buddhism and Waste: The Excess, Discard, and Afterlife of Buddhist Consumption
Edited by Trine Brox and Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022
In what ways do Buddhists recognize, define, and sort waste from non-waste? What happens to Buddhist-related waste? How do new practices of Buddhist consumption result in new forms of waste and consequently new ways of dealing with waste?
This book explores these questions in a close examination of a religion that is often portrayed as anti-materialist and non-economic. It provides insight into the complexity of Buddhist consumption, conceptions of waste, and waste care. Examples include scripture that has been torn and cannot be read, or an amulet that has disintegrated, as well as garbage left behind on a pilgrimage, or the offerings of food and prayer scarves that create ecological contamination.
Chapters cover mass-production and over-consumption, the wastefulness of consumerism, the by-products of Buddhist practices like rituals and festivals, and the impact of increased Buddhist consumption on religious practices and social relations. The book also looks at waste in terms of what is discarded, exploring issues of when and why particular objects and practices are sorted and handled as sacred and disposable. Contributors address how sacred materiality is destined to wear and decay, as well as ideas about redistribution, regeneration or recycling, and the idea of waste as afterlife.
Read more on the publisher's website.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Framework for Studying Buddhism and Waste, Trine Brox (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
1. Generosity's Limits: Buddhist Excess and Waste in Northeast Tibet, Jane Caple (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
2. Modern Minimalism and the Magical Buddhist Art of Disposal, Hannah Gould (University of Melbourne, Australia)
3. The Afterlives of Butsudan: Ambivalence and the Disposal of Home Altars in the United States and Canada, Jeff Wilson (University of Waterloo, Canada)
4. The Great Heisei Doll Massacre: Disposal and the Production of Ignorance in Contemporary Japan, Fabio Gygi (SOAS, University of London, UK)
5. Reincarnating Sacred Objects: The Recycling of Generative Efficacy and the Question of Waste in Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist Material Cultures, Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa (Occidental College, Los Angeles, USA)
6. Zombie Rubbish and Mummy Materiality: The Undead and the Fate of Mongolian Waste, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
7. Something Rotten in Shangri-La: Green Buddhism, Brown Buddhism, and the Problem of Waste in Ladakh, India, Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)