This paper challenges the disciplines supported by, amongst others Juergensmeyer and Reader in stating that they canonise notions of 'terror(ism)', 'religion' and 'violence' into fixed Western categories of knowledge. The author argues that instead a more accurate picture is framed within the micro-space of discursive knowledge, where the ground beneath the meanings of 'religion' and 'violence' fall back and forth between different groups. He argues this through a case study of Sri Lankan politics in the late 80s and 90s, showing how the the labels of 'Buddhist', and 'violent (non-Buddhist)' were pinned on, or claimed by, opposing political groups and that this shows that it is impossible to claim that violence is in opposition to a true Buddhism, as the juxtaposition of religion and violence are determined contingently. His primary concern in stating this argument is that without realising the contingent nature of these terms it is too easy to refer to 'cultures of violence' as suggested by Juergensmeyer, Reader and other authors.
The saffron army, violence, terror(ism): Buddhism, identity, and difference in Sri-Lanka
29 September 2010
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