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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the history of Buddhist studies as a modern academic discipline. Rather than giving a broad bibliographic survey of the field, it explores the way in which power has structured its genesis and development as a system for the production of knowledge. The first section of the chapter describes the confluence of Orientalism and Western presuppositions about the nature of “religion” that shaped the direction of Buddhist studies in its first century. The second section then turns to older systems of knowledge-cum-power that were both drawn upon and disrupted by colonial Buddhist studies. Finally, the third section makes the argument that “decolonization,” while allowing for a critique of colonial Buddhist studies, has not led to an end to the intertwining of power and knowledge production in Buddhist studies, but rather to its transformation.

Keywords: Buddhism, Buddhist studies, colonialism, knowledge, Orientalism, power

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