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Buddhist Extremists and Muslim MinoritiesReligious Conflict in Contemporary Sri Lanka$
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John Clifford Holt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190624378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190624378.001.0001

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A Religious Syntax to Recent Communal Violence in Sri Lanka

A Religious Syntax to Recent Communal Violence in Sri Lanka

(p.194) Chapter Eight A Religious Syntax to Recent Communal Violence in Sri Lanka
Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities

John Clifford Holt

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter chronicles the transformation of this book’s editor’s perspective regarding the complicity of religion in Sri Lanka’s communal violence. The editor previously agreed with the view articulated in M. A. Nuhman’s lead article that economic issues were the root cause of Sri Lanka’s communal conflicts. The editor now argues that elements of religious culture, particularly the performance of ritual and the evocation of symbol, are either venues or flashpoints for the incitement of violence—or are purposely targeted by enemies of ethnic communities to wound, insult, or injure. The chapter discusses not only the recent history of attacks on sacred places in South Asia in general and in Sri Lanka specifically but how the collision of ritual cultures at specific times and specific places, and how the targeting of sacred spaces at sacred times, are elements of the strategy deployed by militants.

Keywords:   complicity of religion, Sri Lanka, communal violence, religious culture, ritual, symbol, sacred spaces, sacred times

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