Historical Threads of Buddhist–Muslim Relations in Sri Lanka



Understanding relations between Sri Lanka’s Buddhist and Muslim communities should not commence with simple concepts of ethnic groups and boundaries and an associated identity politics. This assumes a consistency across time for such communities depicted as collective individuals; that is, as communities imagined in modern terms as discrete and internally homogenous entities. By considering relations between communities over time, this chapter argues for much closer attention to the ways that ethnicity is more of an emergent property of practical action and the larger cultural values associated with that action. The chapter concludes that the biases in Sinhala Buddhist ideology informing its sense of Sri Lankan history need to be redressed so that greater accommodation of minorities can be achieved.


Sri Lanka Trade networks Agrarian societies Muslim minorities Pre-colonial Buddhist polities 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.University of ColomboColomboSri Lanka

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