image of South Asia Guest Lecture Series - John Cort, Room Ruhrpott (4.13)
Guest Lecture

South Asia Guest Lecture Series - John Cort, Room Ruhrpott (4.13)

Biographies of objects and metaphors: The Example of the Jain shrine from Las Vegas

    One of the highlights of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition—better known as the World’s Fair—held in St. Louis in 1904 was the Jain Temple in the East India Building. It was said to be a one-eighth size teakwood replica of a marble temple at Palitana, the Jain pilgrimage site in Gujarat in western India. The East India pavilion was organized by the Indian Tea Association to promote the drinking of tea by Americans, so that a visitor could “drink tea from India served by natives in Oriental dress.” After the Exposition closed the temple remained out of sight for fifty years. It resurfaced in 1963 as the Temple of Luck at the Castaways Hotel, a casino on the Las Vegas strip. When the Castaways closed in 1987, Jains from the Los Angeles area bought the temple. In 2008 the new Jain Center of Southern California opened in San Mateo, and the Jain temple has a prominent place in the Center.
    In this talk Cort follows the complicated lives of this temple from India for over a century in the United States, from being an object of imperial Orientalist display to being a symbol of mid-century American fantasies to now being an object of pride for the recently immigrated Jain community.

John E. Cort is Professor Emeritus of Asian and Comparative Religions in the Department of Religion at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, USA, where he also taught in the International Studies, Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies programs. His research has focused on the ritual, visual, material and literary culture and history of western and northern India, with a special focus on the Jains.

Meeting-ID: 637 1552 4351
Passwort: 820451

Affiliated Persons

Photograph of Dr. Serena Autiero

Dr. Serena Autiero


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Prof. Dr. Jessie Pons


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