Enlightenment and the gasping city. Mongolian Buddhism at a time of environmental disarray
Ithaca: Cornell University Press
Year of publication
With air pollution now intimately affecting every resident of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko seeks to understand how, as a physical constant throughout the winter months, the murky and obscuring nature of air pollution has become an active part of Mongolian religious and ritual life. Enlightenment and the Gasping City identifies air pollution as a boundary between the physical and the immaterial, showing how air pollution impresses itself on the urban environment as stagnation and blur. She explores how air pollution and related phenomena exist in dynamic tension with Buddhist ideas and practices concerning purification, revitalisation and enlightenment. By focusing on light, its intersections and its oppositions, she illuminates Buddhist practices and beliefs as they interact with the pressing urban issues of air pollution, post-socialist economic vacillations, urban development, nationalism, and climate change.