BUDDHISM IN 1970s INDIA

A Photo Elicitation 

2013 

In 1977, Rajyashri's father, Jeremy Goody, or Lokamitra, as known by his Buddhist name, moved permanently to Pune, India from London. Since then, he has been helping work towards the social and spiritual empowerment of the Dalit ex-untouchable community, particularly in the state of Maharashtra.

This photo elicitation project focuses on his first few years in India when he was a Buddhist monk. Though interweaved with his personal impressions of travelling in a foreign land as a monk, the project primarily attempts to explore intricate facets of the Dalit Buddhist movement and the lives of its participants in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, as recounted by Lokamitra.

The photographs used in this piece of work comprise a mix of pictures from Rajyashri's father’s collection and those that she found via the Triratna Buddhist Community Flickr account online. The photo elicitation process itself was carried out over Skype. Although in many ways it might have been interesting to communicate in person with printed photographs, for material photographs ‘do not just represent history, they are historic in themselves’ (Edwards 1997), as Lokamitra has scanned most of his old photographs and now views them mainly on a computer screen, the conduct of this photo-elicitation practice over the Internet seemed fitting.