Graduate Course Code: POL2026H1S L0101
Topics in Political Thought I
Buddhist Political Thought
This course will consider a range of understandings of politics and political thinking that emerge from Buddhist traditions, including the schools of Theravada, Mahayana, and Zen, as well as contemporary transmissions of the teachings outside of Asia. We will read primary source Buddhist texts from different eras as well as secondary analysis of particular thinkers and movements and works that consider the political significance of practice, material culture and affect. While treating Buddhism as an identity, belief system and source of reasoning meaningful to its adherents, our inquiries will also work to avoid reifying or naturalizing “Buddhism,” understanding it and its schools and subfields as a contested and continually revised political construct. In doing so, we will pay close attention to its “interpretive plasticity,” and compatibility with many distinct, even contradictory ideologies.
To include excerpts from various Buddhist suttas, jatakas and commentaries as well as readings by U Hpo Hlaing, Buddhadasa, Walpola Rahula, Richard Madsen, Brian Victoria, Rachelle Scott, Ananda Abeysekara, Sue Darlington, and James Shields.
Format and Requirements
Weekly participation, short response essays, short essay on textual and non-textual sources, annotated bibliography, final exegetical essay.