Dr. Brooke Schedneck, assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes, was awarded an international collaborative research grant from the American Academy of Religion. The grant allowed Schedneck, along with grant co-recipients Ann Gleig of the University of Central Florida and Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg from the University of Copenhagen, to travel to Ladakh, India in August. There, they conducted research focused on Ladakh as a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists of different nationalities.
“We worked collaboratively and individually in Ladakh for two-and-a-half weeks. As a team, we discussed the overall goals of our research, and individually, we located members of the populations we were specifically working with,” Schedneck says. “It was challenging at times, being in a new place and trying to locate contacts. But at the end of our research, we all felt we had gathered much data for our future publications.”
Schedneck, whose research focuses on contemporary Buddhism in Thailand, located and interviewed Thai Buddhist monks, who were part of a pilgrimage group from Thailand to India.
“The Thai Buddhist monks in Ladakh are living in a Buddhist meditation center on the outskirts of the city. Every morning they go on almsround, making themselves available for food offerings from the local community,” Schedneck explains. “I was able to participate in this ritual and attempted to help explain to the Ladakhi community how to offer food and receive the blessing from the monks for their good deed. The 13 monks I met were very friendly and happy to speak Thai with me, as no one in Ladakh speaks Thai except their group.”
She and her team members plan to present their research, titled “Routes to Shangri-La: The Emergence of Ladakh as a Global Buddhist Destination,” at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and publish an article in the Journal of Global Buddhism.