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The Violence of Buddhist Tolerance: Genealogies of Religious Difference in Colonial Burma

Alicia Turner
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Thursday, September 27, 2018
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4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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Alicia Turner, Associate Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies, York University
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APSI Speaker Series

The violence against the Rohingya shocked many around the world because of what they understood to be the inherently tolerant nature of Buddhism. And yet, Burmese discourse justified violence and broader anti-Muslim sentiment by appealing to the same tolerant nature of Buddhism and amplifying fears Buddhism could be lost by being overrun by less tolerant religious others.

Alicia Turner, Associate Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at York University, explores how roots of this problem lie in colonial liberal secularism, charting the genealogy of the idea of Burma (Myanmar) as a place of particular religious tolerance starting in the 18th century, and its intersections with the European construction of Buddhism as a world religion in the second half of the 19th century.