[Workshop] UofT: Rohingya in Peril: Buddhist/Muslim tensions in Myanmar and Beyond (Feb.8, 2018)

Join us for an in depth discussion of the current situation in Burma/Myanmar, featuring three panelists and a discussion. This is the second event in our series, Rohingya in Peril, co-sponsored with the Asian Institute. This workshop features three 20-minute presentations by our panelists, followed by a discussion among the panelists, followed by a Q&A period with the audience. Register for this workshop on Eventbrite.

John Holt will discuss what contemporary Rohingya political leaders in Yangon and Sittwe are saying about the current crisis, and what progressive monks in Mandalay see to be a way forward. He may also consider a comparative perspective on Buddhist/Muslim tensions in Sri Lanka and/or Thailand.

Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière will consider the re-definition of monastic roles in the transitional Burma/Myanmar. She will focus on a new claim by a range of monks for  responsibility in preserving Buddhist national identity in this context, and the rise of an extreme nationalist Buddhism.

Juliane Schober will contextualize the anti-Rohingya violence historically in terms of an extended anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar, and show how anti-Muslim sentiments have informed the project of the state for the past century. Specifically, her presentation will look at various registers (ethnicity, gender and law) through which prejudice have been established. She will also discuss why, in their current configuration, these social developments  threaten an emerging vision of belonging to a new future for Myanmar that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

Panelists’ Biographies

Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière a researcher with the National Center of Scientific Research and is the current Director of the Center of Southeast Asia Studies in Paris.

John Holt has taught at Bowdoin College in Maine since 1978. He teaches courses about Asian religious traditions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as courses on theoretical approaches to the study of religion. He has received numerous research awards, including four fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, two senior fellowships from the Fulbright Program, as well as other national research awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, and the Asian Cultural Council. He has been an editor of Religious Studies Review and was elected as a fellow to the American Society for the Study of Religion in 1995. He is the author of many influential works, including Theravada Traditions: Buddhist Ritual Cultures in Contemporary Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press (2017); Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities: Religious Conflict in Contemporary Sri Lanka  (NY: Oxford U. Press, 2016); Spirits of the Place: Buddhism and Lao Religious Culture (HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2009).

Juliane Schober is Director of the Center for Asian Research and Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University where she also directed the graduate program in Religious Studies (2009–2012) and developed a doctoral track in the Anthropology of Religion. She is an anthropologist of religion who works on Theravada Buddhist practice in Southeast Asia, especially Burma/Myanmar. In 2013, Juliane participated in the first IAPP delegation of U.S. universities to Myanmar, organized by the International Institute of Education. She has held leadership positions in the Association for Asian Studies, the American Academy of Religion, the American Anthropological Association, and serves on various editorial boards. Also in 2013, Juliane founded the Theravada Studies Group, an academic organization affiliated with the Association for Asian Studies. The group promotes comparative and scholarly exchanges among social scientists and humanists who work on aspects of Theravada Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Southwest China and globally though pilgrimage and diaspora networks. Her most recent book, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies and Civil Society, was published in 2011 (University of Hawai’i Press).

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Featured image: Photo courtesy of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto

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