In this story is a continuation of "dissident orientalism", a conflict inherent within the colonial project wherein communities and personal trajectories become embedded within local religious contexts. A distinction made, both in Ireland and Burma, between native religion and the religion of the coloniser serves ...

About this episode

previously been interviewed for the RSP. In this interview, entry to the discussion takes place through the subject of Laurence Carroll, an Irish emigrant to Burma and who was ordained Dhammaloka in Burma. Carroll, like many of his generation, emigrated to the US in the early part of the 20th century. On crossing the US, his trajectory onward to south Asia became entangled more deeply with the politics of empire and colonialism. Dhammaloka’s story opens up a people’s history of the development of Buddhism in what we might call the West. The crossing of boundaries, which we see in the monk’s biography, points to a number of ideas around the identification of religion with nationalist projects. These are challenges to imperial authorities and is bound up in Dhammaloka’s conversion to, and acceptance by, everyday Buddhism in Burma. In this story is a continuation of “dissident orientalism”, a conflict inherent within the colonial project wherein communities and personal trajectories become embedded within local religious contexts. A distinction made, both in Ireland and Burma, between native religion and the religion of the coloniser serves only to enhance the connection between nationalist movements and ethno-religious identity. Cox’s ideas focus on the conjunctions between race, religion and imperial power. How Buddhism becomes identified as Asian remains central to that. **As mentioned in the interview, a slightly longer version of this interview (approx. five minutes) is available to download here** You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on Sri Lankan Buddhism and Colonialism, and Immigrant Buddhism in the West, and of course in the website for the Dhammaloka Project. We hope you enjoy the sound from our new microphone setup. Thanks for listening!

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These early encounters between Buddhism and the West play havoc with many of the dominant models used to understand Buddhism in the West over the last several decades. I first met Laurence Cox and the figure of Dhammaloka in 2012 at a conference at University College Cork in Ireland titled “Pioneer European Buddhists and Asian Buddhist Networks.

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