Over the course of the nineteenth century, most of the Theravada world of Southeast Asia came under the colonial domination of European powers. While this has long been seen as a central event in the development of modern forms of Theravada Buddhism, most discussions have focused on specific Buddhist communities or nations, and particularly their resistance to colonialism.
The chapters in this book examine the many different colonial contexts and regimes that Theravada Buddhists experienced, not just those of European powers such as the British, French, but also the internal colonialism of China and Thailand. They show that while many Buddhists resisted colonialism, other Buddhists shared agendas with colonial powers, such as for the reform of the monastic community. They also show that in some places, such as Singapore and Malaysia, colonialism enabled the creation of Theravada Buddhist communities. The book demonstrates the importance of thinking about colonialism both locally and regionally.
Providing a new understanding of the breadth of experiences of Theravada and colonialism across Asia., this book will be of interest to scholars in the field of Buddhist Studies, Asian History, Comparative World History, Southeast Asian Studies and Religious Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction, Thomas Borchert Part I: Colony/Nation 2. To be Burmese is to be Buddhist: Formations of Buddhist Modernity in Colonial Burma, Juliane Schober 3. Interactions between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism in Colonial Singapore, Wenxue Zhang 4. A Tale of Two Colonialisms: K. Sri Dhammananda and the Making of a Missionary Monk, Jeffrey Samuels Part II: Centralization in Internal Colonies 5. Lanna Buddhism and Bangkok Centralization in Late Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Century, Ratanaporn Sethakul 6. Shifts in Buddhist Authority in Sipsongpanna under Chinese Colonialism, Thomas Borchert Part III: Managing and Governing Theravada Buddhists 7. ‘Colonial Governmentality’: Legal and Administrative Technologies of the Governance of Sri Pada Temple in Sri Lanka, Premakumara de Silva 8. The Thathanabaing Project: Monastic Hierarchies and Colonialism in Burma, Alexey Kirichenko 9. The Institut bouddhique in Laos: Ambivalent Dynamics of a Colonial Project, Gregory Kourilsky Part IV: Students of the Empire 10. Beni Madhab Barua and the Study of Buddhism in Calcutta c 1918 to 1948, Gitanjali Surendran 11. Buddhist Republicanism in Cambodia: a Colonialist Legacy, Ian Harris
Thomas Borchert is an Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Vermont. His research is focused on religion and politics in Theravada Buddhist communities in Thailand, Southwest China and Singapore. He is the author of Educating Monks: Minority Buddhism on China’s Southwest Border (2017).