The narratives of ethnocentric Buddhist identity

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Abstract

This article describes several narratives in Southeast Asian Buddhism. I use the term ‘ethnocentric Buddhism’ to describe these. Collectively, they contribute to the formulation of Buddhist identity, particularly in modern Myanmar. They are based upon a localized form of Buddhism which is often at odds with more universalistic understandings of Buddhism. These new and emerging Buddhist identities are often protectionist in their outlook. They also embrace forms of action which are sometimes in considerable tension with more passive forms of Buddhist behavior. The national and ethnic concerns they represent evoke a rhetoric of intolerance and discrimination which are often violent in their expression. The description of these narratives has the aim of understanding Buddhist ideas and practices that contribute to the emergence of a chauvinistic and nationalistic Buddhist identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-44
JournalJournal of the British Association for the Study of Religion
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2018

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