Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka

de Silva-Wijeyeratne, R. 2014. Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka. London Routledge.

TitleNation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka
TypeScholarly edition
Authorsde Silva-Wijeyeratne, R.
Abstract

Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka offers a new perspective on contemporary debates about Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka. In this book de Silva Wijeyeratne argues forcefully that Sinhalese Buddhism in the period prior to its engagement with the British colonial State signified a relatively unbounded (although at times boundary forming) set of practices that facilitated both the inclusion and exclusion of non-Buddhist concepts and people within a particular cosmological frame. Juxtaposing the premodern against the backdrop of colonial modernity, this book tells us that in contrast modern 'Sinhalese Buddhism/nationalism' is a much more reified and bounded concept, one imagined through a 19th century epistemology whose purpose was not so much inclusion, but a much more radical exclusion of non-Buddhist ideas and people.

In this insightful analysis modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, then, emerges through the conjunction of discourse, power and knowledge at a distinct moment in the trajectory of the colonial State. An intrinsic feature of this modernist moment is that premodern categories (such as the cosmic order) were subject to a bureaucratic re-valuation that generated profound consequences for State-society relations and the wider constitutional/legal imaginary. This book goes onto explore how key constitutional and nation-building moments were framed within the cultural milieu of modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism a nationalism that reveals the power of a re-valued Buddhist cosmic order to still inform the present.

KeywordsSri Lanka, Buddhism, Constitutionalism, Ethnic and Religious Violence, Colonial Modernity
Year2014
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
Published in print2014
Published31 Jul 2013
Place of publicationLondon
SeriesContemporary South Asia Series
ISBN9780415462662
9781138575547
9780203771631

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