NEW BOOK > Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism, ed. by Stephen Berkwitz and Ashley Thompson

Steve Berkwitz's picture

Dear Colleagues,

My co-editor Ashley Thompson and I are pleased to announce the publication of the Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism, which is now available in hardback and eBook formats. We expect a paperback version to appear in due course. Complete book information and open access chapters on “Introduction” and “Icons” can be found on the publisher's website. (For full link, see below.)

Book Description:

Among one of the older subfields in Buddhist Studies, the study of Theravāda Buddhism is undergoing a revival by contemporary scholars who are revising long-held conventional views of the tradition while undertaking new approaches and engaging new subject matter. The term Theravāda has been refined, and research has expanded beyond the analysis of canonical texts to examine contemporary cultural forms, social movements linked with meditation practices, material culture, and vernacular language texts. The Routledge Handbook of Theravāda Buddhism illustrates the growth and new directions of scholarship in the study of Theravāda Buddhism and is structured in four parts:

  • Ideas/Ideals
  • Practices/Persons
  • Texts/Teachings
  • Images/Imaginations

Owing largely to the continued vitality of Theravāda Buddhist communities in countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, as well as in diaspora communities across the globe, traditions associated with what is commonly (and fairly recently) called Theravāda attract considerable attention from scholars and practitioners around the world. An in-depth guide to the distinctive features of Theravāda, the Handbook will be an invaluable resource for providing structure and guidance for scholars and students of Asian Religion, Buddhism and, in particular, Theravāda Buddhism.


Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION - Stephen C. Berkwitz & Ashley Thompson

PART I – Ideas/Ideals

1. “THERAVĀDA”: Sectarianism and Diversity in Mahāvihāra Historiography - Sven Bretfeld

2. PĀLI: Its Place in the Theravāda Buddhist Tradition - Alastair Gornall

3. CIRCULATIONS: Linked Spaces and Divergent Temporalities in the Pāli World - Anne M. Blackburn

4. STATECRAFT: From Buddhist Kingship to Modern States - Patrice Ladwig

5. REFORM: Ideas and Events in Modern Theravāda Reformism - Anne Hansen & Anthony Lovenheim Irwin

6. TRADITION: Nuns and “Theravāda” in Sri Lanka - Nirmala S. Salgado

PART II – Practices/Persons

7. MERIT: Ritual Giving and Its Cultural Mediations - Juliane Schober

8. MEDITATION: Techniques and Processes of Transformation - Pyi Phyo Kyaw & Kate Crosby

9. REPETITION: Pāli Iterations of Ritual Commitment, Commentarial Refrain, and Assiduous Practice - Christoph Emmrich

10. FILIAL PIETY: Shades of Difference across Theravādin traditions - Gregory Kourilsky

11. LAITY: Status, Role and Practice in Theravāda - Asanga Tilakaratne

12. DISCIPLINE: Beyond the Vinaya - Thomas Borchert

13. FUNERALS: Changing Funerary Practices - Katherine Bowie

PART III – Texts/Teachings

14. CANONS: Authoritative Texts of the Theravaṃsa - Peter Skilling

15. ABHIDHAMMA: Theravāda Thought in Relation to Sarvāstivāda Thought - Rupert Gethin

16. VAṂSA: History and Lineage in the Theravāda - Stephen C. Berkwitz

17. MERIT: Ten Ways of Making Merit in Theravāda Exegetical Literature and Contemporary Sri Lanka - Rita Langer

18. BILINGUALISM: Theravāda Bitexts across South and Southeast Asia - Trent Walker

PART IV – Images/Imaginations

19. VISUAL NARRATIVES: Buddha Life Stories in the "Medieval Theravāda" of Southeast Asia - Samerchai Poolsuwan

20. ICONS: Standing out from the Narrative in Theravādin Art - Ashley Thompson

21. AFFECT: Notes from Contemporary Southeast Asian Visual Culture - Chairat Polmuk

22. DEITIES: Supernatural Forces in Theravāda Buddhist Religious Cultures - John Holt

23. MONS: Creating a Narrative of the Origins of Theravāda - Patrick McCormick


This handbook project originally grew out of the Theravāda Civilizations Project, which was initiated in 2009 by Juliane Schober and the late-Steven Collins with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation's Asia Responsive Grants and Special Initiatives program.

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