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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2022
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Creative Commons:
Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC Creative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

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.


‘This comprehensive collection brings together a stimulating selection of case studies from experts on Buddhism, law, and constitutions. Its multi-disciplinary perspective raises much needed comparative questions about the relations between Buddhist ideas and constitutional principles. Ultimately, the editors ask what Buddhism is and what forms the Buddhist–constitutional complex, which they put at the heart of this excellent volume.’

Fernanda Pirie - University of Oxford

‘Schonthal and Ginsburg have pioneered a new field of Buddhism and comparative constitutional law. They bring substantial mastery of Buddhism and law to the book. The volume contains an impressive breadth of socio-legal scholarship. This innovative collection showcases the next generation of scholars in the study of Buddhism and law.’

Melissa Crouch - University of New South Wales

‘By exploring the ‘Buddhist–constitutional complex’ in which constitutionalism and Buddhism may mutually shape and be shaped, this inspiring volume opens up a new field for scholars of comparative constitutional laws and religious studies, not only in Asia but also in the West.’

Wen-Chen Chang - National Taiwan University College of Law

‘This rich and deeply interesting collection provides further evidence that scholars of Buddhism and law are now producing some of the most exciting new scholarship in the law and society field. Even the most skeptical reader will be persuaded that the topics of Buddhism and constitutionalism can indeed be considered in tandem – a fact that was previously far from obvious – and that neither can be understood in Buddhist cultures without taking full account of the other. This book sheds new light on longstanding scholarly assumptions about governance, legitimation, political and social order, and the sacred authority of rulers. It opens up a broad new field for future research that could fundamentally change our understandings of the role of law among the Buddhist peoples of Asia.’

David M. Engel - School of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo

‘This is a superb collection of scholarship studying legal customs from a variety of cultures.’

Ngawang Zepa Source: Religious Studies Review

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Full book PDF

Page 1 of 2

  • Buddhism and Comparative Constitutional Law
    pp i-i
  • Comparative Constitutional Law and Policy - Series page
    pp ii-iv
  • Buddhism and Comparative Constitutional Law - Title page
    pp v-v
  • Copyright page
    pp vi-vi
  • Contents
    pp vii-x
  • Contributors
    pp xi-xii
  • Preface
    pp xiii-xvi
  • Acknowledgments
    pp xvii-xviii
  • Notes on Transliteration and Language
    pp xix-xx
  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 1-32
  • Mapping the Buddhist–Constitutional Complex in Asia
  • Part I - Religious and Political Underpinnings
    pp 33-70
  • 2 - Buddhism and Constitutionalism in Precolonial Southeast Asia
    pp 35-56
  • 3 - Theorising Constitutionalism in Buddhist-Dominant Asian Polities
    pp 57-70
  • Part II - Himalayan Asia
    pp 71-140
  • 4 - The Zhabdrung’s Legacy
    pp 73-98
  • Buddhism and Constitutional Transformation in Bhutan
  • 5 - The “Trick of Law”
    pp 99-123
  • The Hermeneutics of Early Buddhist Law in Tibet
  • Part III - Southern Asia
    pp 141-238
  • 11 - Reconstituting the Divided Sangha
    pp 220-238
  • Buddhist Authority in Post-Conflict Cambodia
  • Part IV - Northern and Northeastern Asia
    pp 239-342
  • 12 - Constitutional Buddhism
    pp 241-271
  • Japanese Buddhists and Constitutional Law
  • 13 - Governing Buddhism in Vietnam
    pp 272-284
  • Part V - Comparative Perspectives
    pp 343-344

Page 1 of 2


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