Sacred Geography in Munkh Khukh Tengriin Oron
with Betsy Gaines Quammen (PhD) and Rebecca Watters
This is a survey course for people interested in geographically situated Mongolian Buddhism and its unique syncretism with local and cosmopolitan entities --from sacred mountains to Karakorum to the Gobi Desert. We will look at the history of Buddhism in Mongolia, focusing primarily on the 1930s religious purges and Buddhism's return after the fall of the Socialist regime in 1990. The course will also feature monastic leaders involved in the re-emergence of Buddhism who will discuss how it survived under socialism, how it was reestablished, and what it looks like today.
Live sessions from June 7-21
This course will focus on the intersection between Mongolian Buddhism, Shamanism, nature ethics and environmental conservation. We’ll cover the history and philosophy of Mongolian Buddhism, tracing its flow from the Silk Route to twentieth century religious purges in the Communist era, and now to its modern-day renaissance. The class will explore Buddhist influences upon current directions in ecological thought and practice in Mongolia (with ramifications elsewhere), especially in confronting wildlife poaching, climate change and sustainability. The goal of the course is to familiarize participants with Mongolian Buddhism’s unique narrative, as well as its role in current ecological crises.
Session I (June 7) Overview of Mongolian Buddhism
Session II (June 9) ErdeneZuu with Baasansuren Lama
Session III (June 14) Darkhan
Session IV (June 16) Da Lama of Gandan Monastery
Session V (June 21) Khamaryn Khiid with Konchog Norbu
Session VI (June 23)
(All dates are in Ulaanbaatar time or GMT+8)
Betsy Gaines Quammen (PhD)
Dr. Betsy Gaines Quammen is an environmental historian. She received a PhD from Montana State University, where she focused on how religious beliefs influence perspectives on landscape. She has studied Asian religions and is herself a Buddhist. Wildlife protection is her passion, having over the years helped establish conservation projects in Mongolia, Bhutan and throughout the American West. She has a BA in English from Colorado College and a Masters in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana.
She is a wildlife biologist and writer who has worked in Mongolia since 2000, when she served in Kharkhorin as a Peace Corps environmental volunteer. She has worked with Tibetan refugee nuns in India, environmental activists in Cambodia, and ranchers in the Western US, but Mongolia is her second home. She currently works on climate change research and monitoring with three protected areas in Huvsgul Province, with a focus on wolverines, butterflies, and pikas. She has a MSc from the Yale School of the Environment, and a BA in anthropology from St. Lawrence University.