Theravāda Buddhist civilizations and their modern formations

Juliane Schober, Steven Collins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


3Today, more than 150 million people around the world practice Theravāda Buddhism, from Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and Southwestern China to Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, among Dalits in India, and throughout diaspora networks in Europe, North America, and Australia. Buddhist practices such as merit making rituals have always been inseparable from the social formations that give rise to them, their authorizing discourses and the hegemonic relations they create. Traditionally, kings acted as patrons of Buddhist institutions and their power was understood as a reflection of moral practice (karma). Merit gained from sponsoring rituals was seen not only in future rewards, but also constructed the fabric of social and political relationships, particularly in traditional contexts. The social formations classical Buddhist kingdoms produced profoundly influenced this tradition in creating what Foucault described as dispositif, which is occasionally translated as ‘apparatus.’ He described his use of the term in the following way: What I’m trying to pick out with this term is, firstly, a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions-in short, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements.1

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTheravada Buddhist Encounters with Modernity
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317268536
ISBN (Print)9781138192744
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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