Pathbreakers: New Postdoctoral Research on South Asia at U of T
Christoph Emmrich (discussant), Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies; Associate Professor, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto
This talk will discuss Dr. Rachelle Saruya's research on Myanmar Buddhist nuns’ formal and informal education. Dr. Saruya focuses on fourteen Buddhist nuns at one nunnery in Sagaing, Myanmar, their experiences with education and monastic training, and their spaces of choice or convenience that help mediate these practices. By allowing the spatial aspects of one nunnery to organize her investigation, Dr. Saruya is able to move through each building, encountering nuns at different life stages and with various aspirations, creating a much more complex picture than if she had used what might be called an “ideal” renunciant with a linear and straightforward educational path. More specifically, this approach enables her to touch on themes of secular vs. monastic education, child nuns vs. older ones, disability and minority status, reformed nunneries vs. old institutions, and lineages, among other matters. While examining this nunnery, Dr. Saruya also explores the connections this nunnery has to two seminary type nunneries and monasteries in the area that help in the nun-making process.
Rachelle Saruya is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Historical Studies at UTM where she is teaching two courses and embarking on a new research project centered on child-wishing rituals in contemporary Myanmar. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area.