Jessica Falcone, ESIA MA ’02, has been awarded the Edward C. Dimock Prize in the Indian Humanities for her manuscript, Battling the Buddha of Love: A Cultural Biography of the Greatest Statue Never Built.
Battling the Bhudda examines the controversial plans and practices of the Maitreya Project, which has long endeavored to offer a multi-million dollar “gift” of the world’s biggest statue to India. Due to the Maitreya Project’s effort to forcibly acquire 750-acres of occupied land for their statue park in the Kushinagar area of Uttar Pradesh, the Buddhist statue planners have run into obstacle after obstacle, including a full-scale grassroots resistance movement working to “Save the Land.”
In telling the “life story” of the proposed statue, Falcone sheds light on the aspirations, values and practices of both the Buddhists working to construct the statue, as well as the Indian farmer-activists who tirelessly protested against the Maitreya Project.
Falcone is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at Kansas State University, where she teaches courses about South Asia, religion, futurity, the arts and expressive cultures.