Urban Utopias pp 139-167 | Cite as

A Modern Chakravartin: Mayawati’s New Buddhist Visual Culture

  • Melia Belli Bose
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology book series (PSUA)


In the early 2000s, Mayawati, the dalit Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India, commissioned dozens of monumental architectural and sculptural memorials commemorating social reformers from her caste. This essay examines how the architectural and sculptural programs in two memorials—the Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Sthal, in Lucknow, and the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida—create inclusive dalit utopias and announce Mayawati’s worth to lead her political party. Among Mayawati’s strategies in these memorials is appropriation from ancient Indian Buddhist art and performances of kingship. These appropriations are apt as many dalits embrace the faith for its messages of anti-casteism and widely held belief that the members of the community were among India’s first Buddhists.


Indian Constitution Indian House Buddhist Monk Chief Minister Bronze Statue 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melia Belli Bose
    • 1
  1. 1.Asian Art HistoryUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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