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Douglas Ober, PhD

Research Coordinator, Research Associate

Faculty of Arts

School of Public Policy and Global Affairs

Douglas Ober is the Research Coordinator for the Centre for Migration Studies. The Research Coordinator works with the Director to support research and policy projects of the Centre and to advance the role of the Centre within UBC and in the broader community. In addition to overseeing the Centre's annual program of events and initiatives, and managing group research projects and budgets, he is also responsible for communications and grant-writing activities.

Beyond his work at the Centre for Migration Studies, Doug is also a Research Associate in the Centre for India and South Asia Research, part of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and an occassional Sessional Lecturer in the Department of History, and Department of Asian Studies.

He received his PhD in Asian Studies in 2017 with specialites in the history of South Asia, colonialism and religion. He has more than a decade of archival and ethnographic research experience in northern India, the Himalayas (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan), and Tibetan areas of China. His research interests include the history of colonialism in Asia, transnational movements, Buddhist studies, religious nationalism, Indian historiography, and Dalit studies. Broadly speaking, his research explores how colonialism shaped and continues to shape social, political and intellectual transformations in South Asia. Religion, and in particular, Buddhism, is the primary lens through which he theorizes these transformations. His work has been supported by a Fulbright - Nehru Fellowship, Tina and Morris Wagner Foundation Fellowship, the Templeman Foundation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Nitartha Institute.

He has written for public media on various Asia-related issues including self-immolation in Tibet, cultural heritage in Afghanistan, and Hindu art exhibitions in the US. His current research includes a SSHRC funded research project with Dr. David Geary (UBC-O) and Dr. Sraman Mukherjee (Ashoka University) on “The Pathways and Politics of Return: Trans-Regional Perspectives on a Buddhist Homeland.” Currently, Doug is in the process of co-editing two Special Issues on discourses of homeland and the politics of citizenship and belonging in South Asia, with an aim to have them published in 2021. He is also working on a book-length study on the revival of Buddhism in colonial and early postcolonial India that engages with the wider literature on public culture, colonialism, transnational mobilities, religious modernities, Orientalism, Dalit activism, and Hindu nationalism.

Recent academic publications, arranged by year, include:

2021. "Translating the Buddha: Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia and its Indian Publics." Humanities, Special Issue on "Postcolonial Approaches to Religion, Literature and the Arts," Vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1 - 18. [Open Access:]

2020. "Socialism, Russia, and India's Revolutionary Dharma." In Buddhism in the Global Eye: Beyond East and West, edited by John Harding, Victor Sogen Hori and Alexander Soucy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 71 - 86. [

2019. "From Buddha Bones to Bo Trees: Nehruvian India and the Poetics of Power, 1947-1956." Modern Asian Studies Vol. 53, no. 4: pp. 1312 - 1350. []

2019. “Buddhism in Colonial Contexts.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press: pp. 1 - 35. []

A complete list of publications is available here with several of the publications downloadable here.