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Social Science and Public Policy

Pyrrhic Constitutionalism? Buddhism, Secularism and the Limits of Law in Sri Lanka

September 24, 2019 at 12:30pm1:30pm EDT

Eggers Hall, 341

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Benjamin Schothal, Associate Professor of Buddhism and Asian Religions, University of Otago, New Zealand

Of the seven countries in South and Southeast Asia with majority-Buddhist populations, six give special status and/or protections to Buddhism in their constitutions. These constitutional prerogatives give clear symbolic prestige to the majority religion. Yet what effects do such prerogatives have on the ways in which citizens understand and practice Buddhism in their daily lives? In this talk, I consider this and other questions in the context of Sri Lanka—a country that, for the last four decades, has given Buddhism “the foremost place” in its constitution.

This event was published on August 19, 2019.

Event Details