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The Buddha was a devoted nationalist: Buddhist nationalism, ressentiment, and defending Buddhism in Myanmar
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
2019 (English)In: Religion, ISSN 0048-721X, E-ISSN 1096-1151, Vol. 49, no 4, p. 661-690Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since 2012, Buddhist nationalist movements – especially the 969 movement and Ma Ba Tha – have emerged in Burma/Myanmar seeking to defend Buddhism against mainly the Muslim minority, with monks delivering nationalist anti-Muslim sermons to huge audiences. The aim of this article is to demonstrate how a discriminatory nationalist agenda can – by appealing to the common trope of Buddhism-in-danger – appear to be justified to Buddhists. Based mainly on nationalist sermons, as well as on fieldwork and nationalist publications, this article examines discourse on the Buddha as a nationalist. First, it argues that Burmese Buddhist nationalism, analytically, should be understood as a ressentiment ideological discourse that also informs a Buddhist-nationalist discipline claimed to bring karmic merit. Second, it traces the roots of this ideology to the colonial period. Third, the article outlines and seeks to define how ‘Buddhist nationalism’ should be understood in an emic sense.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 49, no 4, p. 661-690
Keywords [en]
Buddhist nationalism, Ma Ba Tha, nationalism, Buddhism, religion and politics, Burma/Myanmar
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
History of Religion
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168978DOI: 10.1080/0048721X.2019.1610810ISI: 000469041900001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-168978DiVA, id: diva2:1317322
Funder
The Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesAvailable from: 2019-05-22 Created: 2019-05-22 Last updated: 2019-11-25Bibliographically approved

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