This talk examines the recent rise of violence perpetrated by Buddhist nationalists on Muslim and Christian residents in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
The recent emergence of Buddhist nationalist movements in Myanmar and Sri Lank--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. Talk given by Dr Matthew J Walton, Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford