NEW BOOK> Buddhism and Comparative Constitutional Law

Benjamin Schonthal Discussion

Dear Colleagues 

Together with Tom Ginsburg, I am very pleased to announce the publication of Buddhism and Comparative Constitutional Law (Cambridge University Press, Dec 2022).  A description of the volume is below. Best of all it's totally open access!

Book description

Buddhism and Comparative Constitutional Law offers the first comprehensive account of the entanglements of Buddhism and constitutional law in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan. Bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts, the volume offers a complex portrait of “the Buddhist-constitutional complex,” demonstrating the intricate and powerful ways in which Buddhist and constitutional ideas merged, interacted and co-evolved. The authors also highlight the important ways in which Buddhist actors have (re)conceived Western liberal ideals such as constitutionalism, rule of law, and secularism. Available Open Access on Cambridge Core, this trans-disciplinary volume is written to be accessible to a non-specialist audience.



List of Contributors


by Rebecca Redwood French


Notes on Transliteration and Language

Introduction: Mapping the Buddhist–Constitutional Complex in Asia

Tom Ginsburg and Benjamin Schonthal

Part I  Religious and Political Underpinnings

Buddhism and Constitutionalism in Precolonial Southeast Asia

D. Christian Lammerts

3Theorising Constitutionalism in Buddhist-Dominant Asian Polities

Asanga Welikala

Part II Himalayan Asia

The Zhabdrung’s Legacy: Buddhism and Constitutional Transformation in Bhutan

Richard W. Whitecross

The “Trick of Law”: The Hermeneutics of Early Buddhist Law in Tibet

Martin A. Mills

Tibetan Buddhist Monastic Constitutional Law and Governmental Constitutional Law: Mutual Influences?

Berthe Jansen

Part III Southern asia

 7 Guardians of the Law: Sinhala Language and Buddhist Reformation in Postwar Sri Lanka

Krishantha Fedricks

Thai Constitutions as a Battle Ground for Political Authority: Barami versus Vox Populi

Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang

Establishing the King as the Source of the Constitution: Shifting ‘Bricolaged’ Narratives of Buddhist Kingship from Siam to Thailand

Eugénie Mérieau

10 Buddhist Constitutionalism beyond Constitutional Law: Buddhist Statecraft and Military Ideology in Myanmar

Iselin Frydenlund

11 Reconstituting the Divided Sangha: Buddhist Authority in Post-Conflict Cambodia

Benjamin Lawrence

Part IV Northern and Northeastern asia

12 Constitutional Buddhism: Japanese Buddhists and Constitutional Law

Levi McLaughlin

13 Governing Buddhism in Vietnam

Ngoc Son Bui

14 The Buddhist Association of China and Constitutional Law in Buddhist Majority Nations: The International Channels of Influence

André Laliberté

15 Governing “Lamaism” on the “Frontier”: Buddhism and Law in Early Twentieth-Century Inner Mongolia

Daigengna Duoer

16 Buddhist Constitutional Battlegrounds: Using the Courts to Litigate Monastic Celibacy in South Korea (1955–1970)

Mark A. Nathan

Part V Comparative Perspectives 

17 On the Familiar Pleasures of Estrangement

Deepa Das Acevedo

18 Buddhism and Constitutionalism: A Comparison with the Canon Law

Richard H. Helmholz

19 Islam and Constitutional Law: Insights for the Emerging Field of Buddhist Constitutional Law

Clark B. Lombardi


Dr. Benjamin Schonthal
Professor and Head of Programme Religion Programme | Ahorangi, Tumuaki Tikanga Whakapono
Co-Director, Otago Centre for Law and Society | Te Pokapū Ture me te Papori ki Ōtākou
University of Otago | Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtago
4S13 Te Tumu Building (Richardson South Tower)
PO Box 56, Dunedin, 9054
New Zealand | Aotearoa
Tel/Waea: +64.3.479.8795