Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6 x 8¾
978-1-5381-7793-8 • Hardback • May 2023 • $110.00 • (£85.00)
978-1-5381-7794-5 • Paperback • May 2023 • $37.00 • (£28.00)
978-1-5381-7795-2 • eBook • May 2023 • $35.00 • (£27.00)
Robert E. Sterken Jr. is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at Tyler. Sterken’s research is focused on religion and the state in Southeast Asia. He is the author of Teaching Barefoot in Burma, Bill Ratliff: A Profile of Courage and Leadership in American Politics, and numerous articles and chapters. In 2015-2016, Sterken was a Fulbright Scholar at Yangon University and the Myanmar Institute of Theology. As a Fulbright Specialist in 2018, Sterken taught religion and politics at Jilin University in Changchun, China, where he was awarded Jilin University’s Distinguished Visiting Professor Award.
In an impassioned critique, Sterken demonstrates the baleful consequences of mixing politics and religion throughout Burma’s tumultuous history, beginning from the eleventh century and continuing on to the present day. Most observers would assume Buddhism to be a doctrine that always encourages its adherents to favor tolerance, non-violence, and peace. Sterken does not contest such an interpretation but cites many authorities—from Western political philosophers to contemporary Burmese monks and lay people—who warn that state intervention in religious matters invariably corrupts both the preferred faith and its state sponsors. The violence and tragedy that continues to afflict Burma to this day provides ample evidence in support of Sterken’s claims. — Ward Keeler, University of Texas at Austin
- Provides the reader with an excellent case study of the impact of state/religion entanglement.
- Applies rational choice theoretical model to a country where the model has rarely been applied.
- Provides the reader with a broad look at religion in Myanmar – not only Buddhism.
- Raises questions about the manipulation of the religion for government and political use.
- Provides readers a useful comparative look at the impact of religious nationalism.
- Provides readers with a general overview of the Locke/Jefferson ideas of freedom of religion.
- Provides an excellent discussion about the importance of religious convictions in politics.
- Provides readers with a vivid look at the animist beliefs of the Myanmar people.