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History, Time, and Mass Atrocity in Cambodia
September 26, 2016 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Resident Fellow (2016-2017)
Buddhist prophesies about the end of our time and the dawning of a new era tied to the enlightenment of the fifth buddha in our kalpa or “epoch” have circulated widely across the Buddhist world for nearly two millennia. In Cambodia, these millenarian prophesies have also served as a powerful and pervasive response to and explanation for the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, one that is rarely acknowledged in scholarly interpretations of recent Cambodian history. This talk draws on interdisciplinary research investigating the Buddhist prophesies that have inspired millenarian Buddhism in Cambodia from the colonial era to the post-Socialism of the 1990s. It will raise intertwined questions of whether and how Buddhist prophetic conceptions of temporality might serve as an alternative frame for understanding the Cold War in Cambodia as well as questions about the ethics of representing the suffering of others in scholarship.
Anne R. Hansen is Professor of History and Religious Studies at UW Madison in the Department of History and Program in Religious Studies, where she researches and teaches about the history and development of Theravada Buddhism, Southeast Asian religions, modern Buddhist reform movements, religion and colonialism, Buddhist ethics and moral history, and theory and method in the study of religion. She received a PhD in religious studies from Harvard University and a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. Hansen is the author of How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930 (2007) and editor of At the Edge of the Forest: Essays on Cambodia, History, and Narrative (2008). She is currently working on two books, one on Buddhist conceptions of time, social change and millenarianism in Cambodia, and another on Buddhist ethics of care in Southeast Asian visual culture. Her most recent article “Painting Ethics: Death, Love, and Moral Vision in the Mahāparinibbāna,” appears as part of a symposium on visual ethics in Journal of Religious Ethics 44.1 (March 2016): 17-50.