Northwestern Events Calendar


“New Directions in the Study of Religion, Law, and Public Life: Benjamin Schonthal and Levi McLaughlin.”

When: Thursday, October 19, 2023
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Cindy Pingry   (847) 467-1933

Group: Global Religion and Politics Research Group

Category: Academic


Please join the Global Religion and Politics Research Group as they host Benjamin Schonthal (Professor and Head of Programme in Religion at the University of Otago) and Levi McGlaughin (Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at North Carolina State University)


Benjamin Schonthal "Making the 'Rule of Law' in a Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery"


Buddhist monastic fraternities are some of the largest and wealthiest non-state corporations in Asia. In Sri Lanka today, there are more than 35,000 Buddhist monks living in close to 10,000 monasteries, many of which are endowed with substantial landholdings and real estate. How do monastic groups manage these large populations and considerable wealth? In this workshop paper, which is based on an in-progress book, I examine one important feature of monastic governance in contemporary Sri Lanka: the system of monastic courts on which fraternities rely to manage disputes, make rulings and generally implement the various laws of monastic society. Drawing on ethnography, monastic legal sources and large-scale survey of Sri Lankan monks, I hope to illuminate the various institutions and practices used by contemporary fraternities to govern large, national populations while also creating trust and buy-in among member-monks for a sub-state legal regime that has no real ability to enforce decisions. These institutions draw on traditional Buddhist (vinayic) sources of law, while also augmenting and transforming them in fascinating ways. This talk will cover a number of themes from the comparative study of religion, law and politics: legal pluralism, ‘religious law,’ ‘inter-legality,’ and other topics. 

Levi McLaughlin "Impacts of Religion and Politics on the Multiply Marginalized in Japan: The Lives of Transgender Soka Gakkai Adherents"

This event is hybrid.  Please register for the Zoom meeting if you cannot attend in-person.

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