Keiko Tosa: The Sangha and Political Acts. Secularization in a Theravada Buddhist Society, pp. 271-297


The secularization thesis has been influential in social thought. Most Western and some Asian countries including Japan, seem to confirm this thesis. However, in most Southeast Asian countries religion remains important. In this paper, I focus on the monk demonstrations in Myanmar in 2007. First, I show the contradictions in the confrontation between religious ideals and the institutionalization of sangha (the monastic community of ordained monks and novices) in the modern political system. Then I discuss the institutionalization undertaken to unify the sangha and the rela-tionship between sangha institutions and legal system and the secular world.
After this contextualization, I examine the monk demonstrations as part of a social movement. This involves exploring the kinds of networks used by the monks and the levels at which the military government intervened in the movement. Finally, I con-sider the response of Japanese Buddhist networks, including some humanitarian as-sociations, and the effect of the monk demonstrations on wider networks of Buddhists.

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