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Alicia M Turner

Department of Humanities

Assistant Professor
 
Office: 241 Vanier College
Phone: 416-736-2100 Ext: 66979
Emailturnera@yorku.ca
 
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Professor Alicia Turner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities specializing in the study of Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar and the intersections of religion, colonialism and nationalism. Her work on Buddhist movements from 1890 to 1920 studies issues of education, respect and moral reform. Her current research investigates working-class European Buddhist monks.

More...


Research Interests

Religion , Asian/Pacific Studies , Buddhism, Religions of Southeast Asia, Religion and Colonialism/Empire, Religion and Nationalism, Burmese History, Gender and Religion, European Buddhist Converts in Asia, Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

Current Research Projects

  • Buddhism Across Boundaries: Subaltern, Plebeian and Peripheral Networks in Colonial Southeast Asia  more...

All Publications

Book Chapters

“Religion Making and Its Failures: Turning Monasteries into Schools and Buddhism into a Religion in Colonial Burma” in Markus Dressler and Arvind Mandair eds. Secularism and Religion Making, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 226-42.

Journal Articles

“The Bible, The Bottle And The Knife: Religion As a Mode Of Resisting Colonialism For U Dhammaloka” Contemporary Buddhism, 14, no. 1 (May 2013).

with Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer European Buddhists and globalizing Asian networks 1860–1960” Contemporary Buddhism 14, no. 1 (May 2013).

“Narratives of Nation, Questions of Community: Examining Burmese Sources without the Lens of Nation” The Journal of Burma Studies, 15, no. 2 (December 2011) 263-82.

“The Irish Pongyi in Colonial Burma: The Confrontations and Challenges of U Dhammaloka,” Contemporary Buddhism, 11, no. 2 (2010) 149-71.

with Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “Beachcombing, Going Native and Freethinking: Rewriting the History of Early Western Buddhist Monastics,” Contemporary Buddhism, 11, no. 2 (2010) 125-47.

'Peace, Scholarship and Disciplinary Limits: Postcolonial Potential and Problems of the Study of Religion.' Religion 38, no. 2 (June 2008).

Forthcoming

Saving Buddhism: Moral Community and the Impermanence of Colonial Religion, Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning and Memory Series (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).

Champions of Buddhism: Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma, Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière, Guillaume Rozenberg and Alicia Turner eds. (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press)

Approach To Teaching

2013-2014 HUMA 1855 9.0 Buddhism and Asian Cultures GS/HUMA 6228 3.0A Religion, Networks and Underground Alliances at the Turn of the 20th Century: Europe and South and Southeast Asia 2014-2015 On sabbatical


Professor Alicia Turner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities specializing in the study of Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar and the intersections of religion, colonialism and nationalism. Her work on Buddhist movements from 1890 to 1920 studies issues of education, respect and moral reform. Her current research investigates working-class European Buddhist monks.


Professor Alicia Turner specializes in the study of Buddhism in Southeast Asia with an emphasis on the period of British colonialism in Burma/Myanmar. Her research focuses on the intersections of religion, colonialism and nationalism. Seeking to understanding the cultural aspects of British colonialism and how it transformed local ideas and categories, she investigates the key role religion played in the colonial encounter, both as an ordering category for colonial rule and as a mode of response. Her work on Buddhist lay movements in Burma from 1890 to 1920, studies issues of education, the performance of respect and campaigns for moral reform.

Her current projects also include a collaborative project on Europeans Buddhist monks at the turn of the twentieth century and the study of Buddhist networks from the margins in colonial Southeast Asia.

Area of Specialization

Religious Studies


Degrees

PhD , University of Chicago, Divinity School
MA in History of Religions , University of Chicago
BA in Reigion in Women’s Studies , Kalamazoo College

Professional Leadership

Editor, The Journal of Burma Studies, Center for Burma Studies/National University of Singapore Press, 2007- present

Community Contributions

Executive Committee, Inya Institute: A Myanmar/Burma Research and Heritage Initiative, 2011- present Board of Advisors, Thi Saq Myin Nhàn Journal of Burmese Scholarship, 2011-present


Research Interests:

Religion , Asian/Pacific Studies , Buddhism, Religions of Southeast Asia, Religion and Colonialism/Empire, Religion and Nationalism, Burmese History, Gender and Religion, European Buddhist Converts in Asia, Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

Current Research Projects

  • Buddhism Across Boundaries: Subaltern, Plebeian and Peripheral Networks in Colonial Southeast Asia
    Summary: 
    Across Southeast Asia, Buddhist nationalism is on the rise, presenting Buddhist identity in exclusivist ethnic and national terms. Nowhere is this more apparent at the moment than in Arakan state in Myanmar, where hope of new political freedoms immediately gave way to violence against Muslims fueled by Buddhist nationalist rhetoric. The current identification between Buddhism and nation in Southeast Asia, however, emerged under colonialism out of a more diverse milieu of Buddhist identities at the turn of the twentieth century. In colonial Southeast Asia multiple transnational and multi-ethnic Buddhist identities flourished and, moreover, Buddhism was a medium of connection across boundaries. “Buddhism across Boundaries: Subaltern, Plebeian, and Peripheral Networks in Colonial Southeast Asia” will explore the history of Buddhism as a medium for identity, engagement, and collaboration beyond the late modern limitations of nation and ethnicity, through the study of disparate but effective networks of Buddhist patrons, organizers, and supporters between 1880 and 1920. It promises to open up a new understanding of the complexities of Buddhist transnational organizing and the ways in which religion served as a means for collaboration and affinity. This two-year collaborative project with Brian Bocking, University College, Cork and Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth works from the margins and fringes, rather than the colonial and Buddhist centres, starting in the outlying port cities that saw great flux and interactions of cultures: Akyab in Arakan, Tavoy in Tenasserim and Penang in the Straits Settlements, and in minority and mobile cultures: Chinese in Rangoon, Shan in Bangkok, Sinhalese in Penang, Irish in Southeast Asia. This project steps back from the focus on monks to look at networks that facilitated the travel of ideas and gave birth to new identities and associations. The practice of Buddhism represented the visions of those who made it financially possible—the networks of sponsors, each with their own interpretations of what it should mean to be Buddhist and modern. Investigating the changing role and meaning of Buddhism in the colonial world allows us to ask: How did religion function as a vector of connection outside of the centralizing forces of colonial subjectivity and subsequent nationalism? How did promoting Buddhism make connections across ethnic, class, and cultural boundaries and between those on the various margins of empire—even as they continually reinvented what “Buddhism” and “religion” would mean in practice? How did Buddhism become a medium for resisting both colonialism and the centralizing forces of burgeoning nationalism and official monastic orthodoxy?

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Principal Investigator

    Collaborator: Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking
    Collaborator Institution: National Univ Ireland Maynooth and Univ College Cork

All Publications

Book Chapters

“Religion Making and Its Failures: Turning Monasteries into Schools and Buddhism into a Religion in Colonial Burma” in Markus Dressler and Arvind Mandair eds. Secularism and Religion Making, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 226-42.

Journal Articles

“The Bible, The Bottle And The Knife: Religion As a Mode Of Resisting Colonialism For U Dhammaloka” Contemporary Buddhism, 14, no. 1 (May 2013).

with Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer European Buddhists and globalizing Asian networks 1860–1960” Contemporary Buddhism 14, no. 1 (May 2013).

“Narratives of Nation, Questions of Community: Examining Burmese Sources without the Lens of Nation” The Journal of Burma Studies, 15, no. 2 (December 2011) 263-82.

“The Irish Pongyi in Colonial Burma: The Confrontations and Challenges of U Dhammaloka,” Contemporary Buddhism, 11, no. 2 (2010) 149-71.

with Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “Beachcombing, Going Native and Freethinking: Rewriting the History of Early Western Buddhist Monastics,” Contemporary Buddhism, 11, no. 2 (2010) 125-47.

'Peace, Scholarship and Disciplinary Limits: Postcolonial Potential and Problems of the Study of Religion.' Religion 38, no. 2 (June 2008).

Forthcoming

Saving Buddhism: Moral Community and the Impermanence of Colonial Religion, Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning and Memory Series (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).

Champions of Buddhism: Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma, Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière, Guillaume Rozenberg and Alicia Turner eds. (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press)


Teaching:

Approach To Teaching

2013-2014 HUMA 1855 9.0 Buddhism and Asian Cultures GS/HUMA 6228 3.0A Religion, Networks and Underground Alliances at the Turn of the 20th Century: Europe and South and Southeast Asia 2014-2015 On sabbatical