"Anti-Muslim Movements in Sri Lanka and Myanmar: Connections and Commonalities"

"Anti-Muslim Movements in Sri Lanka and Myanmar: Connections and Commonalities"

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Fellows' Dining Room, Hilda Besse Building, St. Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
Matthew Walton (Oxford)
Chair: 
Dr Matthew J Walton
Convenor: 
Dr Matthew J Walton
Series: 
South Asia Seminar

The recent emergence of Buddhist nationalist movements in Myanmar and Sri Lanka—represented most prominently by the 969 Movement and Bodu Bala Sena, respectively—has resulted in violence directed against Muslims and Christians as well as a renewed attention to questions of religious tolerance and state-religion relations in the two countries. This talk will examine historical and contemporary connections between these two Theravada Buddhist countries and consider their different trajectories of monastic involvement in politics. Why have such similar movements emerged, given the countries’ quite different socio-political positions, Myanmar in the midst of an uncertain transition out of poverty and military rule, and Sri Lanka coming off the brutal conclusion of a civil war in which the state emerged the victor? Of particular interest here are the ideologies and arguments deployed by Buddhist actors in both countries to justify their attitudes and actions towards non-Buddhists.

Matthew Walton is Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony’s College. His research focuses on religion and politics in Southeast Asia, with a special emphasis on Myanmar. Matt’s current manuscript project explores Burmese Buddhist political thought and its influence on Myanmar’s current democratic transition. He also specializes in ethnic and communal conflict in Myanmar, having published articles on this topic in Asian Survey and the Journal of Contemporary Asia. In addition to his academic writing, he occasionally publishes commentary on religion and politics in Myanmar in the news media, most recently in Asia Times Online and ISLAMiCommentary, addressing Burmese Buddhist nationalism and the current wave of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar. 

 Podcast- http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/anti-muslim-movements-sri-lanka-and-myanmar-con...