Introduction: New Roads in Theravada Buddhist Studies
Keywords:Theravada Buddhism, Charles Hallisey, intercultural mimesis, postcolonial studies, Orientalism, South Asia, Southeast Asia
AbstractThis special focus section celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of Charles Hallisey’s groundbreaking 1995 essay, “Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravāda Buddhism,” which offered both an incisive reassessment of the history of Theravada studies and a generative blueprint for its future. Hallisey’s introduction of the term “intercultural mimesis” and his emphasis on the local production of meaning resonated across Buddhist studies and beyond, shaping an entire generation of scholarship on South and Southeast Asia. This introductory essay first surveys “Roads Taken and Not Taken” and its impact on Theravada studies over the past quarter-century. We then explore how junior scholars, including the three authors whose essays are featured in this section, take Hallisey’s prescriptions in new directions. In closing, we reflect on emerging themes and voices in Theravada studies not represented here and where the field may be headed over the next quarter century.
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