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Saving BuddhismThe Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma$
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Alicia Turner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839376

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839376.001.0001

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The Shoe and the Shikho

The Shoe and the Shikho

Chapter:
(p.110) 5 The Shoe and the Shikho
Source:
Saving Buddhism
Author(s):

Alicia Turner

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824839376.003.0005

This chapter focuses on a series of conflicts between Burmese and Europeans over demonstrations of respect that encoded broader issues of subordination and the politics of colonial difference, with particular emphasis on the “shoe question” and shikho in schools. It explores how Burmese Buddhists used the changing terms of official religious neutrality to stake claims to autonomy. It also considers how the issue of what counted as religion and religious practice changed over twenty years through clashes across the colonial divide. It shows how these conflicts became a means to realign the status of the moral community and create space for contingent autonomy in relation to colonial power. It argues that the ambiguity of the category of religion enabled both Burmese Buddhists and colonial actors to actively contest “religion” as a means of promoting or resisting the power of the state and the cultural projects of colonialism.

Keywords:   colonial power, shikho, Europeans, respect, subordination, Burmese Buddhists, religious neutrality, autonomy, religion, moral community

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