Buddhism, Politics and Political Thought in Myanmar

Buddhism, Politics and Political Thought in Myanmar

by Matthew J. Walton


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This is the first book to provide a broad overview of the ways in which Buddhist ideas have influenced political thinking and politics in Myanmar. Matthew J. Walton draws extensively on Burmese language sources from the last 150 years to describe the 'moral universe' of contemporary Theravada Buddhism that has anchored most political thought in Myanmar. In explaining multiple Burmese understandings of notions such as 'democracy' and 'political participation', the book provides readers with a conceptual framework for understanding some of the key dynamics of Myanmar's ongoing political transition. Some of these ideas help to shed light on restrictive or exclusionary political impulses, such as anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalism or scepticism towards the ability of the masses to participate in politics. Walton provides an analytical framework for understanding Buddhist influences on politics that will be accessible to a wide range of readers and will generate future research and debate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781316609392
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2018
Pages: 242
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x (d)

About the Author

Matthew J. Walton is the Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford. He has published widely in academic journals and in the media on a number of topics, focused primarily on religion, politics and ethnicity in Myanmar.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. A brief political history and cast of characters; 2. Building blocks of a moral universe; 3. On human nature and the nature of politics; 4. Order and freedom/liberation: purposes of politics; 5. What is 'politics' and what constitutes 'participation'?; 6. Discipline, rights, and morality: 'democracy' in contemporary Myanmar; Conclusion.

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