Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka
To Be Published July 31st 2013 by Routledge – 272 pages
Focusing on Sri Lanka, this book offers a new perspective on contemporary debates about nationalism in South Asia. It looks at the ‘capture’ of Buddhism by militant Sinhalese nationalism in the colonial and postcolonial periods, and the framing of subsequent key constitutional legal moments.
The book combines the dynamics of constitutionalism with the orbit of historical, political and anthropological scholarship on the cosmology of Sinhalese Buddhism and its relation to Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism. It explores four cases of legal-constitutional moments and offers a unique contribution to the politics and history of devolution in Sri Lanka. The book goes on to examine the way in which Buddhism, and particularly the Asokan state model, may in fact provide the intellectual resources for decentralized government beyond Sri Lanka in other parts of the Theravada Buddhist world, such as Thailand and Burma.
Presenting a timely analysis given the intensification of Sri Lanka’s civil war since the election in 2005 of President Mahinda Rajapakse on an overtly ultra nationalist Sinhalese Buddhist platform, this book is of interest to scholars of South Asian Studies, anthropology, sociology, ethnicity and political science.
Introduction: Sri Lankan Nationalism and the Presence of the Past: Towards a Hermeneutic Perspective 1. The Mahāvamsa as History and The Pre-History of State Formation 2. The Cosmology of Buddhism, the Pāli Chronicles and the Ontology of Evil 3. Textual Practices, Sinhalese Buddhist Consciousness and Dissonance 4. Galactic Polities, Cosmography and the Imaginary of Buddhist Sovereignty 5. The Transformation of Sinhalese Buddhist Consciousness in Its Colonial and Postcolonial Relation 6. Independence, Land, Citizenship and the Cosmic Order 7. Sinhalese Revolutionaries, Linguistic Nationalism and and Buddhism Reimagined 8. Cosmology, Constitutionalism and the Tamil as Other 9. Centralization, Decentralization and the Cosmology of Buddhism 10. Conclusion: Rethinking Community in Sri Lanka
Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne is Lecturer in Law at Griffith Law School, Australia. He specializes in international law and jurisprudence, and has extensive university teaching experience in England and Australia.