Southeast Asia Studies seminar series : Extracting Religion in Myanmar

Event time: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

Attention to natural resources and their extractive labor sheds new light on the co-formation of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam in Myanmar. Myanmar’s natural resources have long shaped its religious life. Gold mined from its rivers covers the country’s towering pagodas. Teak from its tropical forests built the last Buddhist royal capital. Rubies from upland regions adorn Gotama statues. And rare earth metals extracted from conflict zones finance the contemporary military regime. Throughout its history Myanmar’s ruling powers claimed they had a natural right to monopolize extractive industries in service to the Buddhist tradition. With a focus on artifacts and texts from Burma’s Konbaung period (1752–1885 CE), this presentation argues that Burmese political and religious institutions used extractive industries to fashion Buddhist sovereignty. Along the way, it demonstrates how attention to natural resources and extractive labor changes the structure of relationships in religious history.