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Two New Asian Studies Courses being offered in Fall 2014!

Asian 3367 Buddhism & its others in South and Southeast Asia (also RELST 3367)
4 credits MWF 1:25 – 2:15 E. White

This course examines how Buddhist identities, communities and self-understandings are constituted in part through moments of encounter with non-Buddhists. How do Buddhists respond to the challenge of incommensurable religious diversity? What social forces restrict or expand the horizons of intelligibility, tolerance and accommodation? Focusing on the modern era, we will explore missionary work and conversion, ritual and doctrinal borrowing, hybrid communities of religious belonging, interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, and politicized or violent inter-religious conflict. We will analyze how different Buddhist actors and institutions employ diverse strategies of boundary definition and negotiation in relation to various forms of religious distinction and difference. The goal is to understand how the communal, historical and religious self-understandings of Buddhists in contemporary South and Southeast Asia have been shaped by their complicated interactions with Christian, Hindu, Muslim, animist and other religious communities. (RL)

Religion, Political violence in South & Southeast Asia (also RELST 4466, ASIAN 6666/RELST 6666)
 4 credits TR 2:55 – 4:10 E. White

This course examines how religious ideologies, practices and institutions have been politically mobilized in the public spheres of modern South and Southeast Asia. Divisive social conflict and communal violence have resulted from this mobilization, challenging conventional secular notions of national identity and political community. How have nationalist, developmental and democratic agendas in the post-colonial era contributed to the emergence of assertive, contentious religious identities? How have religious beliefs, communities, and historical memories been transformed by this mobilization? In what ways have these visions of religious nationalism transformed the political, economic and social dynamics of the post-colonial states of South and Southeast Asia? We will examine a variety of cases including Hindutva and communal violence in India, ethno-religious chauvinism and civil war in Sri Lanka, the Saffron Revolution and anti-Muslim campaigns in Burma, and religious insurgency in Thailand.(SC)