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Seminar | The Buddha comes to Bangkok: Challenges of the multiple | Sraman Mukherjee

18/07/2023 @ 15:30 - 17:00

This paper traces the making of Bamiyan Buddhas beyond the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan since 2002. The study focuses on one of these new Buddhas, the Bamiyan Buddha at Wat Saket in Bangkok (inaugurated in 2017). In their global manifestations, the Bamiyan Buddha has emerged as a mobile site, a place holder with direct and indirect citations to the Buddhas of the valley.

While each of these Buddhas respond to the material and symbolic loss of the Buddhas in Bamiyan, their making reflect the micropolitics of their different locations, and embody diverse localization of copying and replication strategies that allow remarkable mediations across form, scale, and material media. The building of the Bamiyan Buddha at Wat Saket is situated within Thailand’s domestic politics, and within national and global circuits of collecting, display, gift and piety. The museum remains at the heart of the entire project.


Sraman Mukherjee (Ashoka University, India) is trained as a historian of material and visual cultures of colonial and early postcolonial South Asia. His work explores the interface between the past and the present in the constitution of the disciplinary and institutional domains of art history, archaeology, and museums; biographies of material traces (sites, objects, and monuments); and histories of the inter-Asian circulation of objects, ideas, and people. Sraman’s ongoing research explores the possibilities of translation in art history, mapping material reconstitutions of circulating Buddhist images and objects and sites across South and Southeast Asia.


Marieke Bloembergen is a senior researcher at KITLV, and professor in Heritage and Postcolonial Studies in Indonesian History at Leiden University. Her research interests concern the political dynamics of cultural knowledge production in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, as understood in their local, inter-Asian and global dimensions, and with a focus on networks of material culture, heritage practices, religion, memory, and policing. Her present research focuses on scholarly and religious knowledge networks between Indonesia, India and the West, and the makings of moral geographies of Greater India, 1880s-1980s. In that context she also explores the relations between collecting histories of Hindu-Buddhist antiquities, and the rise of an Asian art market.

Format, date, time & venue

This seminar is an event on location and will be held in the conference room of KITLV (room 1.68) on Tuesday 18 July, from 15.30 – 17.00 PM (CET).


If you want to join this seminar on location, please register via: [email protected].


Bamiyan Buddha in the Bamiyanguha Museum at Wat Saket, Bangkok, 12 December 2023. Photographer: Sraman Mukherjee.


15:30 - 17:00
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KITLV, room 1.68
Reuvensplaats 2
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