In the last 50 years, anthropologists have come to understand that cultures are fractured and fractious rather than carefully balanced systems. In this time, many anthropologists, often relying on theoretical understandings of power, have sought to explain how social fissures and social contradictions are resolved, exploited or synthesized. In this article, I propose another way people accommodate irresolvable social contradictions - they ignore them. Through a study of the architectural layout of early Buddhist worship halls in South Asia (c.250 BCE-100 CE), this article examines spatial strategies for ignoring intractable social contradictions. Ancient Buddhist monks ameliorated contradictions between the need for individual asceticism and communalism by spatially separating the simultaneous experience of contradictory ritual acts.
- South Asia
- early Buddhism
- social contradiction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)