Multi-religiosity in Contemporary Sri Lanka : Innovation, Shared Spaces, Contestations book cover
1st Edition

Multi-religiosity in Contemporary Sri Lanka
Innovation, Shared Spaces, Contestations

ISBN 9780367862343
Published September 27, 2021 by Routledge
286 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book presents a collection of original research about every day, innovative, interactive, and multiple religiosities among Sri Lankan Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and devotees of New Religious Movements in post-war Sri Lanka.

The contributors examine the unique and innovative religiosity that can be observed in Sri Lanka, which reveals a complex reality of mingled, and even simultaneous, cooperation and conflict. The book shows that innovative religious practices and institutions have achieved a new prominence in public life since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. Using the analytic framework of ‘innovative religiosity’  to allow researchers to look at this question between and across Sri Lanka’s plural religious landscape in order to escape both the epistemological and ethnographic isolation of studies that limit themselves to one form of religious practice, the chapters also investigate the extent to which inter-religious tolerance is still possible in the wake of Sri Lanka’s religion-involving civil war, and the continuing influence of populist Buddhist nationalism, globalization and geopolitics on Sri Lanka’s post-war governance. The book offers a novel approach to the study of post-conflict societies and furthers the understanding of the status of tolerance between religious practitioners in contexts where both ethnic conflict and multi-religious sites are prominent.

This book is an important resource for researchers studying Anthropology, Asian Religion, Religion in Context and South Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Three Introductions

Introductory Essay I. Negotiating with innovative multi-religious spaces, new religious pluralism, and geo-religious powers in post-war Sri Lanka.

Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran

Introductory Essay II. Spaces of protection, healing and liberation.

Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake

Introductory Essay III. Innovation and multi-religiosity at Sri Lankan interfaces.

Mark P. Whitaker

Part Two: Negotiating with Indigenous Spirits and at Buddhist-Hindu Interfaces

1. Of Meditation, Militarization, and Grease Yakas: Gendering supernatural and transnational dynamics in post-war public relations

Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake

2. The Ghost and the Goat – Religious Innovation in the Yaktovil Healing Tradition and Post-War Othering

Eva Ambos

3. Divine Eyes on the Sorrows of Lanka: Post-War Devotion to Pattini-Kannaki

Malathi de Alwis  

4. Kuweni & Vijaya Retold: Sri Lanka’s Postwar Iconography as an Affirmation of Inter-Community Mixing

Neena Mahadev

Part Three: Pilgrimage and multi-religious sites

5. Kataragama Pāda Yātra: Pilgrimaging with ethnic “others” in a backdrop of ethnoreligious nationally reconstructed cultural difference as denied resemblances

Anton Piyarathne

6. Religious Innovation in the Pilgrimage Industry: Hindu Bodhisattva Worship and Tamil Buddhistness.

Alex McKinley

Part Four: Sri Lanka’s New and Old Inter-Religious Movements

7. Searching for cakti: New gods, Sites and Choices in Postwar Tamil Sri Lanka

Mark P. Whitaker and Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran

8. Emerging Innovative Religiosity and What They Signify

Selvy Thiruchandran

9. Beyond Syncretism: Buddhist-Islamic Interface in the Galebandara Cult

Kalinga Tudor Silva

10. Militancy in Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism

H.L Seneviratne

Part Five: Upcountry Religiosity

11. Temples and Deities on Plantations

Sasikumar Balasundaram

12. Conversions, Fixing Faith, and Material Investments on Sri Lanka’s Tea Plantations

Mythri Jegathesan

Part Six. Islamic and Christian arrangements

13. Sufis in Sri Lanka: A Fieldwork Story

Dennis McGilvray

14. Beards, cloth bags and sandals: reflections on the Christian Left in Sri Lanka

Harini Amarasuriya

15. Claiming the Mannar Martyrs: Catholicism and Caste in Northern Sri Lanka

Dominic Esler

16. Hyper-religiosity, Ethnoreligious Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Ethnic Violence in Sri Lanka: Pathways for Innovative Religious Responses to Peace with Justice

Jude Fernando

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Mark P. Whitaker is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky.

Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake is a Senior Researcher at the International Center for Ethnic Studies.

Pathmanesan Sanmugeswaran is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology at the Open University of Sri Lanka.