Topics in South and Southeast Asian Studies - Buddhism and Social Change in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka

T 2:00-4:59P
Holt, John

The focus of this seminar is aimed at determining how recent social, economic and political changes in Southeast Asian nation states have impacted contemporary Buddhist religious cultures.  Case studies include:  how worship of the Phra Bang Buddha image, historically the palladium of Lao kingship, has changed dramatically since the 1975 communist revolution; how prolonged civil war in Sri Lanka has led to a robust assertion of Sinhala Buddhist nationalist identity in the annual asala perhara processions in Kandy; how ordination rites among Thai Buddhists reflect the manner in which Thai culture has been ever more “commodified;” how, in light of the devastation inflicted by the Khmer Rouge, pchum ben, the annual rite of caring for deceased kin, has become perhaps the most popular of all rites in the Khmer ritual calendar in Cambodia; and how the kathina rite (giving robes to the sangha) has morphed into a concentrated season of gift-giving campaigns in Myanmar owing to the military’s promotion of merit-making consciousness. 

Spring 2018