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Ananda Abeysekara

Ananda Abeysekara, Associate Professor

Ananda Abeysekara, Associate Professor
Ananda Abeysekara, Associate Professor

Department of Religion and Culture
209 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-5788 | ananda@vt.edu

My writing is a critical engagement with Buddhist Studies (and Religious Studies) scholarship, interrogating how its legacy of racism and white privilege informs the kinds of questions that scholars ask and do not ask as well as the texts that they engage and do not engage. My current areas of research interest are Theravada Buddhism, Sri Lanka, South Asia, tradition, political sovereignty, secularism, and colonialism and postcoloniality. I am interested in the question of religion by way of thinking about the “limits” of a tradition against the backdrop of the ensemble of modern social-political life. My focus is on how the secular notions of time—connected with modern ideas of capacity, sensibility, body, etc.—remain inadequate to grasp the temporality and the form of life in a tradition, marked by a tension between moment and destiny (kairos and chronos), between what begins and what passes away, between decisive action and repetition of practice.

  • Theravada Buddhism and Politics
  • South Asian Religions
  • Colonial Power and Postcolonial Critique
  • Secularism and Religion
  • BA, Macalester College (1992)
  • MA, University of Virginia (1994)
  • PhD, Northwestern University (1999)
  • An Outstanding Academic Book by CHOICE for The Politics of Postsecular Religion: Mourning Secular Futures (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).
  • American Academy of Religion's Award for the Best First Book in the History of Religion for Colors of the Robe: Religion, Identity, and Difference (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002).
  • A symposium of four articles on my book The Politics of Postsecular Religion: Mourning Secular Futures was published in Religion 42.1(2012).

Books

Colors of the Robe: Religion, Identity, and Difference (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002).

The Politics of Postsecular Religion: Mourning Secular Futures (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008). 

Journal Articles

“A Review Essay of Joseph Walser’s Genealogies of Mahayana Buddhism: Emptiness, Power, and the Question of Origin.” Religious TheoryE-Supplement to the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Oct. 2019. (Downlaod)

“Protestant Buddhism and “Influence’: The Temporality of a Concept.” Qui Parle 28:1(2019):1-75. ( Downlaod)

“A Review Essay of Theravada Buddhist Encounters with Modernity.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 25(2018):333-371. (Download)

“Religious Studies’ Mishandling of Origin and Change: Time, Tradition, and Form of Life in Buddhism.” Cultural Critique 89 (Winter, 2018):22-71. (Download)

“The ‘Problem’ of Religion, Christianity, and the Capacity of Community,” ReOrient: Journal of Critical Muslim Studies 1.1(2015):37-42. (Download)

“Sri Lanka, Postcolonial ‘Locations of Buddhism,’ Secular Peace: Sovereignty of Decision and Distinction,” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 14.2(2012):211-237. (Download)

“The Un-translatability of Religion, The Un-translatability of Life: Talal Asad’s Thought Unthought in the Study of Religion,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23(2012):257-282. (Download)

“Buddhism, Power, Modernity,” Culture and Religion 12: 42(2011):489–497. (Download)

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