Resisting the Global in Buddhist Nationalism: Venerable Soma's Discourse of Decline and Reform
This article examines Buddhist nationalism as an effort to resist the intrusion of globalizing forces into local religious and cultural heritage. By analyzing the discourse, persona, and life of Venerable Gangodawila Soma (1948–2003), a renowned and controversial Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, the author demonstrates that Buddhist nationalism is largely a discursive formation that affirms an essential relationship between Buddhism and nation over against external forces that threaten their existence. A charismatic and skillful preacher, Venerable Soma employed a variety of media to reverse the perceived decline of Buddhism and the nation in the face of what he saw as immoral and hostile interests—including corrupt politicians, Tamil separatists, Evangelical Christians, and nongovernmental organizations. Venerable Soma's discourse, which privileges local forms of knowledge and morality, shows how globalization stimulates both new possibilities and new contradictions in contemporary forms of Buddhist nationalism.
Berkwitz, Stephen C. "Resisting the global in Buddhist nationalism: Venerable Soma's discourse of decline and reform." The Journal of Asian Studies 67, no. 1 (2008): 73-106.
Journal of Asian Studies