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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter seeks to reconcile the seemingly pacifist nature of Eastern religions and civilizations and the reality of terrorism, communal violence, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Asia. All religions promote peaceful change but justify violent change. All civilizations have Gandhi-like advocates for peaceful change but also leaders who agitate for violent change. Civilizational plurality and canonical ambiguity have paradoxically provided a fertile ground for the reduction of complex identities, which are more amenable to peaceful change, into singular ones, which are more prone to civilizational clashes. The weakness of inclusive institutions has further incentivized the politicization of religion. While singular ethnonational identities are constructed and can theoretically be deconstructed, they have tended to become hardened. The chapter anchors the analysis with Islam in Afghanistan and Indonesia; Hinduism in India; Buddhism in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Tibet; and Confucianism in China. It concludes that the rise of self-proclaimed civilization-states in recent years does not bode well for peaceful change.

Keywords: peaceful change, violent change, terrorism, genocide, pluralism, religion, identities, clash of civilizations, civilization-states, Asia

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