ANANDA ABEYSEKARA

Ananda Abeysekara

Associate Professor

Office

209 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone

540-231-5788

Email

Department Membership

Religion and Culture

Expertise

  • Theravada Buddhism and Politics
  • South Asian Religions
  • Colonial Power and Postcolonial Critique
  • Secularism and Religion

Education

  • B.A. Macalester College (1992)
  • M.A. University of Virginia (1994)
  • Ph.D. Northwestern University (1999)

Awards and Honors

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).

Selected Publications

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). 

Articles

“Protestant Buddhism and “influence’: The Temporality of a Concept” (forthcoming in Qui Parle, 2018).

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

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

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

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

“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.

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

Additional Information

My research and teaching have to do with Theravada Buddhism, Sri Lanka, South Asia, tradition, religion, and politics, religious practice and temporality, religion and secularism, political theories of sovereignty and state, liberal tradition and secular dispositions. In particular, I want to think about 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, emotion, body, etc.—remain inadequate to grasp how temporality and the form-of-life work 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.