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Imagining death and eros in Cambodian Buddhism

I’ve chosen the title of this first entry carefully; the words mean specific things. However, I’m concerned that the words themselves seem too ‘high-falutin”. On the other hand, some of the alternatives that cropped up first were unappealing – I have suspicions that my irreverent humor is not often appreciated. We’ll find out.

There’s nothing here yet, but will be soon, I hope, as I begin to write more and more. Here’s the description of the page as it stands in the “About this page” section:

I’m in the process of organizing and writing my dissertation at the University of Chicago’s History of Religions program. I’ve finished 33 months of fieldwork in Cambodia, where I focused originally on funerary practices, but rapidly expanded my focus to include death-related practices and beliefs more generally.

Although none of the blog itself has been written yet, let me briefly outline what I imagine it will be:

  1. An opportunity for me to share my thoughts on my ongoing work
  2. An opportunity for me to make mistakes, seek feedback, and clarify my work prior to publication in ‘hard copy.’
  3. A way of organizing and motivating my writing process.

As a result, it is very very important to me that I receive feedback, criticism, and suggestions from those kind readers interested enough to bother. I’m not so naive that I am ignorant of the spam and flame wars that infest many blogs, and fair warning is given here – while criticism is sought, abuse is not – and neither will I allow abusive comments or threads to persist on the page for long.

Finally, here are the main themes that I am currently working with, and trying to organize through my work. Some of these may find their way in significant form into my dissertation, others may be very briefly dealt with, and others may simply have to be left by the wayside. I don’t want to write Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, just a clean, clear dissertationt that makes some contributions to the various fields with which it engages. The themes:

  1. Death, and its productive capacity, especially in relation to
  2. Memory, which is necessary to remember the dead, but also intersects with
  3. Imagination, which helps to bridge the gap between past and future, for individuals and collectives alike.

Of course, I focus on Buddhism, so my work will focus on these themes in Cambodian Buddhist culture.

I hope to see you here, and to hear your voices.

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