Hermeneutics revised.doc - Hans-Bernd Zöllner In Search of the Religious-Political Hermeneutics in Myanmar 1 1 Introduction The title of this

Hermeneutics revised.doc - Hans-Bernd Zöllner In Search of...

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Hans-Bernd Zöllner In Search of the Religious-Political Hermeneutics in Myanmar 1 1 Introduction The title of this presentation points to a abstract and complex topic („religious-political hermeneutics“ 2 ) combined with a question mark („in search of“). In other words – it is a difficult issue I am going to talk about. Its difficult because our understanding of the relationship of religion and politics in Myanmar is very limited. Still more limited is our understanding of how the Christians as well as the Buddhists in Myanmar look at this relationship. Another difficulty is related to the circumstance that not just theology is involved here but hermeneutics as well, a discipline that is related to philosophical epistemology. Both subjects might be regarded as domains reserved for some specialists working in ivory towers. In contrast, this paper is based on the assumption that not just religion but theology/Buddhology and philosophical “meta-issues” like theories of knowledge might matter very much in Myanmar today. This has been at least partly noticed with regard to the Buddhist side since the term “Buddhist nationalism” has gained prominence. 3 The options of a “Christian” and a “Muslim” nationalism and their backgrounds have not yet been received much academic interest. The following considerations, induced by the discovery that something like a “Christian nationalism” exists in Myanmar in a variety of forms, are a result of my personal history with Myanmar. In the 1990s I developed idea of using “history” as a means to support the peace process in Myanmar because the political fragmentation of the country was reflected in the many “histories of Myanmar” that co-existed in a more or less hostile way. 4 The project developed after 2010 brought me in contact with a number of people of various “minority” ethnic groups with an interest in history. They were most interested in the project because they rightly felt that their histories were neglected by the official historiography focussing on the rulers of the majority of B’ma. As a counter-measure, my contact persons wanted to write the “true” history of their respective group and expose the misdeeds of the “other” side. In my eyes, such an understandable desire however might obstruct the obvious need to promote trust between the various stakeholders in Myanmar. I wondered about what role the understanding of “history” might play in Myanmar’s ethnic- religious conflicts. Contacts with a number of Christian theologians among them a number of Kachins gave me the idea that studying the “Kachin case” could be helpful to shed light on this issue. I learned that a theological concept of salvation history strongly influences the conflict between Kachin “nationals” and the B’ma-Buddhist dominated state. This impression was supported by learning more about the perception of the conflict and the breakdown of the ceasefire
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  • Fall '08
  • Finklerberg

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