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Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority

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This volume is a tribute to the work of Michael Jerryson, one of the initiators of the academic discourse on Buddhism and violence whose intellectual pursuits have resulted in a trailblazing shift in the academic study of Buddhism. Preconceived in the modern west as a pacific, chiefly meditative practice aiming for personal salvation and world peace, Buddhism has been exposed in the last few decades for its manifold legacy of violence. This is apparent not only in Buddhist groups' history of support for actual military aims, but in Buddhism's association with religious nationalism and in its more subtle expressions of discursive and structural violence. This exposure is due in significant part to Michael Jerryson who, in addition to exploring this perhaps surprising Buddhist history, has investigated the dynamism of Buddhist authority. Most recently in his critique of U Wirathu, the Burmese Buddhist monk whose advocacy of Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar has stirred a boiling pot of anti-Muslim resentments, Michael Jerryson has shown that reverence for Burmese religious authorities transcends respect for traditional Buddhist doctrine and monastic accomplishments. It emanates instead from the phenomenon of religious authority itself and from the cultural institutions which support it. His examinations have resulted in heightened sensitivity to the sociology of religious authority and violence.

The scholarly contributions in this volume include discussions of Buddhism and violence, religious authority and nationalism, whether Buddhist, Christian, white, or other.

Published: Sep 1, 2021

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
The Legacy of Michael Jerryson Mark Juergensmeyer, Margo Kitts
Part I: Buddhism and Violence
1. Introduction to the Papers of Part I Stephen Jenkins
2. Buddhist Justifications for Violence Damien Keown
3. Dharma and its Discontents: The Case of Kumārajīva John M. Thompson
4. Buddhist Law as International Law Ben Schonthal
5. Exorcizing the Buddhist Body Politic: Sakya Paṇḍita, Goden Ejen, and the Bodily Violence that “Converted” the Mongols to Buddhism Matthew King
6. De-Centering the Normative in the Intro to Buddhism Class Nathan McGovern
7. Nāgārjuna’s Catuṣkoṭi and Relativism About Rationality Blaze Marpet
8. Humanizing the Rohingya Beyond Victimization: A Portrait Grisel d'Elena
Part II: The Sociology of Religious Authority
9. Introduction to the Papers of Part II Matthew Walton
10. Contested Authority: Evangelicalism as a Cultural System Julie Ingersoll
11. Jerryson’s “Exposure of Buddhism” and the Christian Religio-cultural Legacy of Violence in U.S. War-Culture Kelly Denton-Borhaug
12. Authority and Apocalypse: Three Cases from Classical Islam Jamel Velji
13. Error of Eros: Religious Authority and Sexual Violence Dustin Shane Hall
14. Affect in the Archives: Violence and Authority in Late Ancient Apocalyptic Texts Abby Kulitsz
15. Michael Jerryson between Buddhism and Secularism: On the Conceptual History of the West Andrew Katzenstein
16. Selling Sex in Sin City: The Religious and Cultural Dimensions to the Opposition of the Legalization of Sex Work Lindsay Heldreth