In May, Oxford University Press will release “Buddhism and Political Theory” by Matthew J. Moore (California Polytechnic State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Despite the recent upsurge of interest in comparative political theory, there has been virtually no serious examination of Buddhism by political philosophers in the past five decades. In part, this is because Buddhism is not typically seen as a school of political thought.
However, as Matthew Moore argues, Buddhism simultaneously parallels and challenges many core assumptions and arguments in contemporary Western political theory. In brief, Western thinkers not only have a great deal to learn about Buddhism, they have a great deal to learn from it. To both incite and facilitate the process of Western theorists engaging with this neglected tradition, this book provides a detailed, critical reading of the key primary Buddhist texts, from the earliest recorded teachings of the Buddha through the present day. It also discusses the relevant secondary literature on Buddhism and political theory (nearly all of it from disciplines other than political theory), as well as the literatures on particular issues addressed in the argument.
Moore argues that Buddhist political thought rests on three core premises–that there is no self, that politics is of very limited importance in human life, and that normative beliefs and judgments represent practical advice about how to live a certain way, rather than being obligatory commands about how all persons must act. He compares Buddhist political theory to what he sees as Western analogues–Nietzsche’s similar but crucially different theory of the self, Western theories of limited citizenship from Epicurus to John Howard Yoder, and to the Western tradition of immanence theories in ethics. This will be the first comprehensive treatment of Buddhism as political theory.
In February, Routledge released “Governing Post-Imperial Siberia and Mongolia, 1911–1924: Buddhism, Socialism and Nationalism in State and Autonomy Building,” by Ivan Sablin (National Research University Higher School of Economics). The publisher’s description follows:
The governance arrangements put in place for Siberia and Mongolia after the collapse of the Qing and Russian Empires were highly unusual, experimental and extremely interesting. The Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic established within the Soviet Union in 1923 and the independent Mongolian People’s Republic established a year later were supposed to represent a new model of transnational, post-national governance, incorporating religious and ethno-national independence, under the leadership of the coming global political party, the Communist International. The model, designed to be suitable for a socialist, decolonised Asia, and for a highly diverse population in a strategic border region, was intended to be globally applicable. This book, based on extensive original research, charts the development of these unusual governance arrangements, discusses how the ideologies of nationalism, socialism and Buddhism were borrowed from, and highlights the relevance of the subject for the present day world, where multiculturality, interconnectedness and interdependency become ever more complicated.
In April, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Buddhism and the Political Process” edited by Hiroko Kawanami (Lancaster University, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
In its interpretation of Buddhism both as a cultural heritage and social ideology, this edited volume seeks to understand how Buddhist values and world views have impacted on the political process of many countries in Asia. In their respective work in Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Tibet, the contributors engage with an interactive typology originally proposed by the late Ian Harris, to whom the book is dedicated. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, they explore the interaction between Buddhism and politics, religious authority and political power, considering issues that concern the politicization of monks, proliferation of violence, leadership, citizenship, democracy and communalism in order to further understand the interface between Buddhism and politics in modern and contemporary times.
In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Recovering Buddhism in Modern China,” edited by Jan Kiely (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and J. Brooks Jessup (Free University of Berlin). The publisher’s description follows:
Modern Chinese history told from a Buddhist perspective restores the vibrant, creative role of religion in postimperial China. It shows how urban Buddhist elites jockeyed for cultural dominance in the early Republican era, how Buddhist intellectuals reckoned with science, and how Buddhist media contributed to modern print cultures. It recognizes the political importance of sacred Buddhist relics and the complex processes through which Buddhists both participated in and experienced religious suppression under Communist rule. Today, urban and rural communities alike engage with Buddhist practices to renegotiate class, gender, and kinship relations in post-Mao China.
This volume vividly portrays these events and more, recasting Buddhism as a critical factor in China’s twentieth-century development. Each chapter connects a moment in Buddhist history to a significant theme in Chinese history, creating new narratives of Buddhism’s involvement in the emergence of urban modernity, the practice of international diplomacy, the mobilization for total war, and other transformations of state, society, and culture. Working across an extraordinary thematic range, this book reincorporates Buddhism into the formative processes and distinctive character of Chinese history.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim-Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging,” edited by Melissa Crouch (University of New South Wales). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume explores the relation between Islam, Buddhism, and the state in Myanmar from both an empirical and a comparative perspective. It provides an informed response to contemporary issues facing the Muslim communities of Myanmar furthering knowledge of the interaction between state institutions, government policies and Muslim communities of the past and the present.
This volume aims to provide scholarly insights into Islam and Buddhism in Myanmar, to emphasize the inherent diversity within and among Muslim communities, and to bring a scholarly perspective and insight into the complex issues raised by the position of Muslims in Myanmar. It brings together experts in the field from a diverse array of disciplinesareligious studies, international relations, political science, history, Islamic studies, law and anthropology. The volume is focused around the themes of colonialism and the state; the everyday experiences of Muslims; and the challenges of violence and security.
In October, Palgrave Macmillan released “British Burma in the New Century, 1895-1918” by Stephen L. Keck (Emirates Diplomatic Academy). The publisher’s description follows:
British Burma in the New Century, 1895 – 1918 draws upon neglected but very talented colonial authors to portray Burma between 1895 and 1918, which was the apogee of British governance. These writers, most of them ‘Burmaphiles’, wrote against widespread misperceptions about Burma. They sought to separate Burma from India, recover the country’s recent and ancient past, understand Buddhism and revere the land, all while supporting the imperial mission. Between 1895 and 1918, Burma experienced a period of profound social and economic transformation. Burma would be challenged by bubonic plague, the persistence of crime, multiple forms of corruption and rising ethnic tensions. The Burmaphiles wrote during a dynamic period in which the foundations for much of modern Myanmar were established. New Century Burma proved to be a formative moment in the subsequent development of the country.
In September, Brill will release “Theory of Religious Cycles: Tradition, Modernity, and the Bahá’í Faith” by Mikhail Sergeev (The University of the Arts, Philadelphia). The publisher’s description follows:
In Theory of Religious Cycles: Tradition, Modernity and the Bahá’í Faith Mikhail Sergeev offers a new interpretation of the Soviet period of Russian history as a phase within the religious evolution of humankind by developing a theory of religious cycles, which he applies to modernity and to all the major world faiths of Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.
Sergeev argues that in the course of its evolution religion passes through six common phases—formative, orthodox, classical, reformist, critical, and post-critical. Modernity, which was started by the European Enlightenment, represents the critical phase of Christianity, a systemic crisis that could be overcome with the appearance of new religious movements such as the Bahá’í Faith, which offers a spiritual extension of the modern worldview.
This June, SUNY Press will release “Buddhism beyond Borders: New Perspectives on Buddhism in the United States” by Scott A. Mitchell (Institute of Buddhist Studies) and Natalie E. F. Quli (Institute of Buddhist Studies). The publisher’s description follows:
Buddhism beyond Borders provides a fresh consideration of Buddhism in the American context. It includes both theoretical discussions and case studies to highlight the tension between studies that locate Buddhist communities in regionally specific areas and those that highlight the translocal nature of an increasingly interconnected world. Whereas previous examinations of Buddhism in North America have assumed a more or less essentialized and homogeneous “American” culture, the essays in this volume offer a corrective, situating American Buddhist groups within the framework of globalized cultural flows, while exploring the effects of local forces. Contributors examine regionalism within American Buddhisms, Buddhist identity and ethnicity as academic typologies, Buddhist modernities, the secularization and hybridization of Buddhism, Buddhist fiction, and Buddhist controversies involving the Internet, among other issues.
This May, Bloomsbury Publishing will release “Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem in China” by Eric Reinders (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:
The most common Buddhist practice in Asia is bowing, yet Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem is the first study of Buddhist obeisance in China. In Confucian ritual, everyone is supposed to kowtow, or bow, to the Chinese emperor. But Buddhists claimed exemption from bowing to any layperson, even to their own parents or the emperor. This tension erupted in an imperial debate in 662.
This study first asks how and why Buddhists should bow (to the Buddha, and to monks), and then explores the arguments over their refusing to bow to the emperor. These arguments take us into the core ideas of Buddhism and imperial power: How can one achieve nirvana by bowing? What is a Buddha image? Who is it that bows? Is there any ritual that can exempt a subject of the emperor? What are the limits of the state’s power over human bodies? Centuries later, Christians had a new set of problems with bowing in China, to the emperor and to “idols.” Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow problem compares these cases of refusing to bow, discusses modern theories of obeisance, and finally moves to examine some contemporary analogies such as refusing to salute the American flag.
Contributing greatly to the study of the body and power, ritual, religion and material culture, this volume is of interest to scholars and students of religious studies, Buddhism, Chinese history and material culture.
This March, Brill Publishing will release “Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transitional Movement” edited by David W. Kim (Australian National University). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume explores the religious transformation of each nation in modern Asia. When the Asian people, who were not only diverse in culture and history, but also active in performing local traditions and religions, experienced a socio-political change under the wave of Western colonialism, the religious climate was also altered from a transnational perspective. Part One explores the nationals of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan, focusing on the manifestations of Japanese religion, Chinese foreign policy, the British educational system in Hong Kong in relation to Tibetan Buddhism, the Korean women of Catholicism, and the Scottish impact in late nineteenth century Korea. Part Two approaches South Asia through the topics of astrology, the works of a Gujarātī saint, and Himalayan Buddhism. The third part is focused on the conflicts between ‘indigenous religions and colonialism,’ ‘Buddhism and Christianity,’ ‘Islam and imperialism,’ and ‘Hinduism and Christianity’ in Southeast Asia.