Making the Muslim Other in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

Benjamin Schonthal

in Islam and the State in Myanmar

Published in print June 2016 | ISBN: 9780199461202
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199086979 | DOI:
Making the Muslim Other in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

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  • Comparative Politics


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This chapter examines how ‘Muslims,’ imagined falsely as a singular communal bloc, have come to be identified by Buddhist nationalist groups in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka as a problem for the nation. Although this chapter begins with the familiar characterization of violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka as religiously inflected, that is, ‘Muslim-Buddhist’ in nature (to use the hyphenated adjective employed by many media reports), this chapter takes a slightly more circumspect approach to the role of religion in these events. Not only does this chapter think comparatively about Myanmar and Sri Lanka, it also reflects on why, in both cases, a particular ‘Muslim-Buddhist’ framing of tensions and violence has come to be seen by many as persuasive. To do this, it explores certain political, historical, legal and discursive processes through which Muslims and Islam have been portrayed as ‘threats’ to Buddhism.

Keywords: Sri Lanka; Myanmar; Buddhist nationalism; ethnicity; conflict; violence; law; Islam; Muslims

Chapter.  8406 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations ; Comparative Politics

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