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CSEAS Friday Lecture Series. From Orientalism to Modern Rationalization? Buddhism and Colonial Governmentality in Laos and French Indochina (1893-1953)

Patrice Ladwig, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany

French colonial politics in Laos and Cambodia had a strong impact on Buddhism. Both countries were subject to quite similar politics rooted, for example, in the fact that both had Theravāda Buddhist kingship and statecraft as forms of indigenous political organization, which the French used for establishing indirect rule. Moreover, monks and monasteries were supposed to economize colonial rule by providing elementary school education for the population. This presentation discusses the position of Buddhism in French colonial politics, and argues that the research on Buddhism carried out by the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) was clearly driven by the Orientalist research agendas of its time, but that considerations deriving from practical governmentality played an equally important role here. How was Buddhism as a resource for enhancing colonial rule conceptualized by the French? What measures were introduced to ‘modernize’ Buddhism and integrate it into the colonial project? Were these met with resistance, and what were the roles of Lao and Khmer indigenous religious elites in these policies? Finally, the presentation will situate the particular case of Buddhism in Laos and Cambodia in a wider theoretical perspective by relating it to recent historical and anthropological discussions on colonialism, and (post-)Foucauldian approaches to governmentality.

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When and Where

Map Weiser Hall - Room 110

November 2018

11:30am - 12:30pm

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