Lammerts-Syllabus: Buddhism, Society, & Politics in sea buddhism, Society, and Politics in Southeast Asia

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Lammerts-Syllabus: Buddhism, Society, & Politics in SEA

Buddhism, Society, and Politics in Southeast Asia

Dr. D. Christian Lammerts

Course Description
This course offers an exploration of the histories of Buddhist social and political culture in Southeast Asia from premodernity to the present. We read primary literary and historical texts, inscriptions, and art historical and archaeological evidence, as well as current interdisciplinary scholarship in Buddhist and Southeast Asian Studies, to consider how Buddhism has played, and continues to play, a vital role in the construction of norms and habits of the sociopolitical domain. Examples of particular thematic foci include diverse regional Buddhist practices and understandings of law, gender, class, political authority, the family, monastic institutions, colonialism, and economic life.  
Course Objectives
This course seeks to foster critical analysis and understanding of the constitutive relationship of Buddhism to social and political life in premodern, modern, and contemporary Southeast Asia. It explores Buddhist theories and practices concerning society and politics in historical and cultural context. The course meets the core curriculum requirements for social and historical analysis (h, j, k, l, and m):
After taking this class, students will:
1) be able to identify and assess some of the diverse ways in which Buddhism has given rise to particular social and political theories and practices (h, j);
2) have gained a considerable understanding of the development of Buddhist social and political histories in Southeast Asia, and their continuing relevance for the present day (k);
3) have strengthened their skills in social and historical analysis, academic writing, and engagement with primary documents, through written assignments and a final research paper (j, l).
4) have developed an appreciation for the relationships among religion, society, and politics on a general level, as well as a heightened critical awareness of the historically and culturally conditioned nature of social and political thought and practice (h).
The course also meets core curriculum goals regarding cognitive skills and processes (WCr, WCd, u, v) by
1) fostering communication and writing skills appropriate to the academic study of religion and the humanities and social sciences more broadly (WCd/t);
2) requiring students to engage in and respond to ongoing peer and instructor review (WCr/s2);
3) develop independent readings of primary historical and literary documents and write about them using correct citation and bibliographic methods (u);
4) bring multiple primary and secondary sources into conversation to develop and support an original argument about class topics (v).
Course Requirements
1) Response Papers and Peer-Review. Students will write three two- to three-page papers that respond to questions about assigned topics and readings posed by the instructor. In developing their response to this question, papers must bring at least two different primary and/or secondary sources into conversation. These papers will be circulated for peer and instructor review.
2) Research Essay and Presentation. Students will prepare a final research essay (8-10 pages) that examines the question the relationship between Buddhism, society, and politics in Southeast Asia in light of a close reading and analysis of one or more primary sources (either among those discussed in class or determined in consultation with Dr. Lammerts). This paper will be an outgrowth of one of the three response papers written earlier in the semester, and should incorporate editorial comments from that round of peer and instructor review. Final essays will undergo a second round of peer and instructor review, and students will present their drafts to the class for comments prior to submission.
Participation and Attendance (20%)

Quizzes (20%)

Response Papers and Peer Review (30%)

Research Essay (30%)

Grading System:

A=100-90, B+=89-87, B=86-80, C+=79-77, C=76-70, D=69-65, F=64 and below.

Course Policies
i) Academic Integrity

Familiarize yourself with Rutgers policies and materials concerning academic integrity and

plagiarism at the following sites:

Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses. Any student found to have committed or aided the offence of plagiarism will be subject to penalties in accordance with the policies of the University.

ii) Use of electronic equipment

Please turn off all mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices before class. If you must use a computer, tablet, or e-reader, for reading electronic readings please sit in the first two rows of the classroom. Recording devices are not permitted.

Required Texts
Anne Ruth Hansen, How To Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007.

Juliane Schober, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2010.

Week 1. Southeast Asia in Context: Indianization, Localization, Cosmopolitanism

J.G. de Casparis and I,W. Mabbett, “Religion and Popular Beliefs of Southeast Asia

before c. 1500.” In The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1, Part 1, ed. N.

Tarling, pp. 276-286. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Georges Coedès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1964, pp. 14-35.

O.W. Wolters, “Local Cultural Statements.” In History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives, pp. 58-67. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 1999.


John R. Smail, “On the Possibility of an Autonomous History of Modern Southeast Asia.” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 2.2 (Jul., 1961): 72-102.

Prapod Assavavirulhakarn, The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2010, pp. 149-183.
Week 2. Perspectives on the Sociological Dimension of Early Buddhism

Max Weber, The Religions of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism. Selections.

Melford Spiro, Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and Its Burmese Vicissitudes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982, pp. 3-14.

Heinz Bechert, Buddhism and Society. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1979.


Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett, The Sociology of Early Buddhism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 1-160.


Uma Chakravarti, “The Social Philosophy of Buddhism and the Problem of Inequality.” Social Compass XXXIII/2-3 (1986): 199-211.

Madan Mohan Singh, “Slavery as known from Buddhist Pāli Sources.” Indian Historical Quarterly XXXIX/1&2 (Mar. & Jun. 1963): 1-12.

Dev Raj Chanana, Slavery in Ancient India as Depicted in Pali and Sanskrit Texts. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House, 1960, pp. 39-62.

Week 3. Utopianism, Kingship, and Dhamma in Early Buddhist Narrative
I & II.

Steven Collins, Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities. New York: Cambridge University Press, 414-496; 602-615; 627-634.

Week 4. Buddhism and Charter Polities

Heine-Geldern, “Conceptions of State and Kingship in Southeast Asia,” The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Nov., 1942), pp. 15-30.

Victor Lieberman, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800-1830. Volume One: Integration on the Mainland. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 85-123.

Ian Harris, Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005. Chapter 1.

Michael Aung-Thwin, “Kingship, the Sangha, and Society in Pagan.” In Explorations in Early Southeast Asian History: The Origins of Southeast Asian Statecraft, eds. Kenneth R. Hall and John K. Whitmore, pp. 205-256. Ann Arbor: Michigan Papers on South and Southeast Asia, 1976.

Yoneo Ishii, Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986. Part 1.

Week 5. Premodern Political Order, Ritual, and Social Life

Volker Grabowsky, “Buddhism, Power and Political Order in Pre-Twentieth Century Laos.” In Buddhism, Power, and Political Order, ed. Ian Harris, pp. 121-142. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Charles Keyes, “Structure and History in the Study of the Relationship between Theravāda Buddhism and the Political Order.” Numen XXV/2 (1978): 156-170.

E. Michael Mendelson, Sangha and State in Burma: A Study of Monastic Sectarianism and Leadership. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975. Chapters 1-2.

Richard Davis, Muang Metaphysics: A Study of Northern Thai Myth and Ritual. Bangkok: Pandera, 1984. Selections.

Stanley J. Tambiah, World Conqueror & World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand against a Historical Background. London: Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 102-158.

Week 6. Buddhist Legal Culture Beyond the Vinaya I

Michael Aung-Thwin. Pagan: The Origins of Modern Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985, pp. 116-231.

Than Tun, Essays on the History and Buddhism of Burma. Whiting Bay: Kiscadale, 1988, pp. 69-84.

Robert Lingat, “The Buddhist Manu or the Propagation of Hindu Law in Hinayanist Indochina,” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 30 (1949): 284-97.

Andrew Huxley, “Buddhism and Law—The View from Mandalay,” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 18, 1 (1995): 47-95.

D. Christian Lammerts, “Genres and Jurisdictions: Laws Governing Monastic Inheritance in Late Premodern Burma.” In Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, edited by Rebecca R. French and Mark Nathan (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Selections from:

D. Richardson, ed. and trans. The Damathat, or The Laws of Menoo. Maulmain: American Baptist Mission Press, 1847.

E. Forchhammer, ed. and trans. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham. Rangoon, Government Press, 1934.

Ryuji Okudaira, “The Burmese Dhammathat.” In Laws of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1, ed. M.B. Hooker. Singapore: Buttherworths, 1986, 23-142.

Yoneo Ishii, “The Thai Thammasat,” In Laws of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1, ed. M.B. Hooker. Singapore: Buttherworths, 1986, 142-203.
Week 7. Buddhist Legal Culture Beyond the Vinaya II
I & II.

A.B. Griswold and Prasert Na Nagara, “A Law Promulgated by the King of Ayudhya in 1397”. Journal of the Siam Society, 52, 1 (1969), 109-148.

A. B. Griswold and Prasert Na Nagara, “The Judgments of King Man Ray,” Journal of the Siam Society, 65, 1 (1977): 132-160.

Aroonrut Wichienkeeo and Gehan Wijeyewardene. The Laws of King Mangrai (Mangrayathammasart). Canberra: Australian National University, 1986. Selections.

David Wyatt, “Laws and Social Order in Early Thailand: An Introduction to the Mangraisat.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 15. 2 (1984): 245-252.

A. Thomas Kirsch, “Cosmology and Ecology as Factors in Interpreting Early Thai Social Organization.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 15.2 (1984): 253-265.


Aroonrut Wichienkeeo, “Lanna Custonary Law.” In Thai Law: Buddhist Law, ed. A. Huxley. Bangkok: White Orchid, 1996, pp. 31-42.

Mayoury Ngaosyvathn, “An Introduction to the Laws of Khun Borom.” In Thai Law: Buddhist Law, ed. A. Huxley. Bangkok: White Orchid, 1996, 73-80.
Week 8. Buddhism and Slavery

Andrew Turton, “Thai Institutions of Slavery.” In Asian and African Systems of Slavery, ed. James L. Watson, pp. 252-292. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.


Thanet Aphornsuvan, “Slavery and Modernity: Freedom in the Making of Modern Siam.” In Asian Freedoms: the Idea of Freedom in East and Southeast Asia, eds.

David Kelly and Anthony Reid, pp. 161-186. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Katherine Bowie, “Slavery in Nineteenth Century Northern Thailand: Archival Anecdotes and Village Voices.” In State Power and Culture in Thailand, ed. E. Paul Durrenberger, pp. 100-138. Yale University Southeast Asia Monograph #44.


Michael Aung-Thwin, “Athi, Kyun-taw, Hpayà-Kyun: Varieties of Commendation and Dependence in Pre-Colonial Burma.” In Slavery, Bondage, and Dependency in Southeast Asia, ed. Anthony Reid, pp. 64-89. New York: St. Martin’s, 1983.

Week 9. Gender, Sexuality, and Family Matters

Barbara Watson Andaya, “Localising the Universal: Women, Motherhood, and the Appeal of Early Theravada Buddhism.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 33.1 (2002): 1-30.

Charles Keyes, “Mother or Mistress but Never a Monk: Buddhist Notions of Female Gender in Rural Thailand.” American Ethnologist 11.2 (1984): 223-241.

Keren Derris, “When the Buddha was a Woman: Reimagining Tradition in the Theravāda.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 24.2 (2008): 29-44.

Maung Maung, Law and Custom in Burma and the Burmese Family. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1963. Selections.

Trude Jacobsen, “Being broh: the Good, the Bad, and the Successful Man in Cambodia.” In Men and Masculinities in Southeast Asia, ed. Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons. London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 86-102.

Weeks 10-11. Buddhism, Colonialism, and Modernity
Anne Ruth Hansen, How To Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011.

Juliane Schober, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2010, pp. 1-61.


Tamara Loos, “Colonial Law and Buddhist Modernity in the Malay Muslim South.” In Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006, Ch. 3.

Week 12. Sociopolitical Movements and State Building

Juliane Schober, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2010, pp. 62-154.


Duncan McCargo, “Buddhism, Democracy and Identity in Thailand.” Democratization 11.4 (2004): 155-170.

Nicola Tannenbaum, “Protest, Tree Ordination, and the Changing Context of Political Ritual.” Ethnology 39.2 (2000): 109-27.

Chatthip Nartsupha, “The Ideology of ‘Holy Men’ Revolts in North East Thailand.” In History and Peasant Consciousness in South East Asia, eds. Andrew Turton and Shigeharu Tanabe, pp. 111-134. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 1984.

Thien Do, “The Quest for Enlightenment and Cultural Identity: Buddhism in Contemporary Vietnam.” In Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia, ed. Ian Harris, pp. 254-284. London: Continuum, 1999.

Martin Stuart-Fox, “Laos: From Buddhist Kingdom to Marxist State.” In Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia, ed. Ian Harris, pp. 153-172. London: Continuum, 1999.

Week 13. Buddhism and War

Ian Harris, Buddhism under Pol Pot. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013. Selections.


Judy Ledgerwood, “Buddhist Practice in Rural Kandal Province, 1960 and 2003: An Essay in Honor of May M. Ebihara.” In People of Virtue: Reconfiguring Religion, Power and Moral Order in Cambodia Today, eds. Alexandra Kent and David Chandler, pp. 147-168. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008.


Michael Jerryson, “Militarizing Buddhism: Violence in Southern Thailand.” In Buddhist Warfare, eds. Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer, pp. 179-210. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Week 14. Religious Pluralism and Sectarian Conflict in Arakan: Past and Present
I & II.

Human Rights Watch, “The Government Could Have Stopped This: Sectarian Violence and Ensuing Abuses in Burma’s Arakan State.” August 2012.

Jacques P. Leider, “These Buddhist Kings with Muslim Names… A Discussion of Muslim Influence in the Mrauk-U Period.” In Études birmanes en homage à Denis Bernot, eds. Pierre Pichard and François Robinne, pp. 189-215. Paris: École française d’Extrême Orient, 1998.

J.S. Furnivall, Colonial Policy and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948, pp. 29-33, 131-141, 303-312.

Moshe Yegar, The Muslims of Burma. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1972. Selections.

Nalini Ranjan Chakravarti, The Indian Minority in Burma: The Rise and Decline of an Immigrant Community. Oxford University Press, London, 1971. Selections.


Jacques P. Leider, “Arakan’s Ascent during the Mrauk U Period.” In Recalling Local Pasts: Autonomous History in Southeast Asia, eds. Sunait Chutintaranond and Chris Baker, pp. 53-87. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2002.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Slaves and Tyrants: Dutch Tribulations in Seventeenth-Century Mrauk-U.” Journal of Early Modern History 1, 3 (August 1997): 201-253.

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