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This lecture series aims to create an opportunity for members of the university community to join with residents of the broader Dayton region to consider a topic of current religious interest. It honors Dr. Nicholas Piediscalzi, a founding member of the religion department.
Speaker: Dr. Alicia Turner, Associate Professor Of Humanities and Religious Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada
Topic: "The Violence of Buddhist Tolerance: Escalating Religious Difference in Myanmar/Burma"
This talk charts the genealogy of the idea of Burma as a place of particular religious tolerance starting in the 18th century, and its intersections with the European construction of Buddhism as a world religion in the second half of the 19th century. The content of what constituted tolerance shifted over the decades, but the comparators that evidenced exceptional Burmese tolerance did not: there were consistent positive comparisons with Europe that elevated Burma on the colonial civilizational scale and continual negative contrasts with Indian (and to a lesser extent Chinese) others, labeling Hindus and Muslims in particular as backward for their intolerance. By the twentieth century, the equation of Burmeseness, Buddhism, and tolerance fused within nationalist discourse and led to a drive to defend Buddhism against less tolerant Indian others. The themes compelling the contemporary violence—the radical difference between Burmese and Indians, the need to preserve free Buddhist women from Muslim men and the idea that a tolerant religion could be overrun by the forces of religious intolerance all originate in these secular colonial discourses of religious difference.
The lecture of free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Religion department at (937) 775-2274 or email@example.com.
The Piediscalzi Lecture Series was inaugurated in 1989 to honor Nicholas Piediscalzi, the founder and long-time chair of the Wright State Department of Religion. Dr. Piediscalzi came to Wright State in 1965 one year after the university’s founding, and it was under his guidance that the academic study of religion became an integral part of the curriculum. For 23 years Dr. Piediscalzi taught a variety of courses concerning the relationship between religion and society and when he retired in 1988 his colleagues, and many of his students and friends decided that a lecture series in his honor would be a fitting tribute to his contribution both to the Religion department and to the university.