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  • Benjamin Schonthal (a1)

This article argues for a different reading of the history of law and religion in independent Sri Lanka, one that does not associate the persistence of religious tension with the failure of law, but, somewhat counterintuitively, with the legalization of religion in the first instance. I argue that it is not law's failure that adds to the intensity of religious tensions on the island, but its pyrrhic success. Sri Lanka's success in drafting, ratifying, and deploying legal regimes of religious rights has led to the further ossification of the very conflicts they were intended to arbitrate. Through a condensed overview of the history of debating, drafting, and adjudicating constitutional religious rights in Sri Lanka, this article demonstrates how, in turning to law to resolve religious disputes, Sri Lankans have deepened and hardened the very lines of conflict that those laws were meant to resolve.

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Winnifred Fallers Sullivan , Robert A. Yelle , and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo , eds., After Secular Law (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011)

Charles O. H. Parkinson , Bills of Rights and Decolonization: The Emergence of Domestic Human Rights Instruments in Britain's Overseas Territories (London: Oxford University Press, 2007), 28

A. Jeyaratnam Wilson , The Gaullist System in Asia: The Constitution of Sri Lanka (1978) (London: Macmillan, 1980)

Benjamin Schonthal , “The Legal Regulation of Buddhism in Contemporary Sri Lanka,” in Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, eds. Rebecca French and Mark Nathan (New York: Cambridge, 2014), 159

Mahinda Deegalle , “Politics of the Jathika Hela Urumaya Monks: Buddhism and Ethnicity in Contemporary Sri Lanka,” Contemporary Buddhism 5, no. 2 (2004): 83103

Neil DeVotta and Jason Stone , “Jathika Hela Urumaya and Ethno-Religious Politics in Sri Lanka,” Pacific Affairs 81, no. 1 (2008): 3334

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Journal of Law and Religion
  • ISSN: 0748-0814
  • EISSN: 2163-3088
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-law-and-religion
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