Writing True Places in the Twilight of Empire and the Dawn of Revolution: The Buddhist Historiography of the Mongol Zawa Damdin Luwsandamdin (1867-1937)
Author(s)King, Matthew William
Keywordsblo bzang rta dbyangs/blo bzang rta mgrin
Buddhism and modernism
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the life and historiography of the Khalkha Mongol polymath, Zawa Damdin Luwsandamdin (bLo bzang rta mgrin; bLo bzang rta dbyangs) (1867-1937); a Buddhist monk, abbot, pilgrim, and modernist discontent who wandered extensively through the shifting socio-political landscape of the Qing-socialist transition in Outer Mongolia. Focusing upon Zawa Damdin's autobiographical and historiographic works, previously unexamined outside of Mongolia, in the first place this study analyzes monastic literary constructs of the space and time of Mongolian Buddhism after the Qing imperial collapse in 1911, and before the purges of the late 1930s. Drawing upon Michel de Certeau's notion of the "historiographic operation" and Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of the "chronotope," in the second place this dissertation explores the generative practices of monastic historiography with a focus on interpretative techniques and writing strategies. What emerges is Zawa Damdin's stark dystopian-utopian contrast between the degeneracy of the revolutionary-era and an embattled monasticism, and an idealized form of Buddhist authority most fully manifested during the Qing formation but long absent by the author's present. Zawa Damdin inscribed this binary firmly within a Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist interpretative schema, but still drew upon newly available European scholarship on nationalism, science, Asia and Buddhism. This dissertation suggests that holistic analyses of Inner Asian Buddhist mediations of modernist trends in the late-and post-imperium could contribute to a dynamic, and much needed, cultural history of both Orientalism and Occidentalism.