[College of Social Sciences] Invited lecture by experts 'Taming the City: Urban Buddhism in Ulan-Ude'

Jun 07, 2022

Seoul National University College of Social Sciences is holding a Invited lecture by experts. 

Taming the City:

Urban Buddhism in Ulan-Ude


Dr. Kristina Jonutyte (Vytautas Magnus University)



Date: 7th of June, 2022 (Tue) 12:00-13:30

Place: Seoul National University College of Social Sciences Global meeting room (Build. 16 Room no. 349)

Participation link: (Lecture ID: 339 537 4845)

*The lecture is held simultaneously online and offline


Contact for inquiry:


*This lecture will be held in English .



Lecture outline:


Buryat Buddhism has historically been tightly linked with the rural milieu. Since its spread in the 18-19th centuries, its temples and lamas were initially nomadic, although settled monasteries did form later to serve the nomadizing Buryat population. The spread of Buddhism was brought to a violent halt for much of the 20th century by Soviet anti-religious policies. While the losses were vast, the recent post-Soviet decades have seen a vigorous Buddhist revival, (re)establishing its role in public and private spheres. This religious revival, however, has taken place in a vastly different social context. While Buryats were previously mostly nomadizing herders, over the 20th century much of the Buryat population has moved to the capital city Ulan-Ude, previously a Russian settlement. Buddhism today is thriving under newly urban conditions, but much of its historical, ritual and ideological threads still link it to the previously rural context. At the same time, the urban space is to a large extent seen as devoid of such religious power, and its local spirits and deities are said to have left it a long time ago. The present paper explores these rural-urban entanglements of Buryat Buddhism, looking at both resilience and flexibility of religious forms to enable its continuity. In particular, it asks: how does the urban environment shape Buddhist beliefs, institutions and practices, and does it make sense to speak of urban Buddhism at all?