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Charney, Michael W. (2021) 'Buddhism, the Royal Imaginary, and Limits in Warfare: The Moderating Influence of Precolonial Myanmar Royal Campaigns on Everyday Warriors.' Contemporary Buddhism, 22 (1/2). pp. 367-379.

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Rules on the treatment of civilians and other non-combatants in conflict are often attributed to Western origins, particularly the increasingly widening circles of empathy that grew out of the European Enlightenment and found international implementation in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, such limits were pursued or encouraged by many non-Western societies as well, particularly amongst indigenous Americans. The present article examines the case of Myanmar and the ways in which the Myanmar court set limits on violence in administration and limits on warfare. These limits were not an imposition of the West but emerged entirely within the Myanmar-Buddhist historical experience. It is argued that these provide an existing, discernible and indigenous model for limiting violence in warfare in Myanmar society. The article also explains why this model was forgotten. The removal of the king and disintegration of the standing army that came with the end of indigenous rule in 1885 did away with crucial moderating influences, while the violence of the brutal Pacification Campaign from 1885 erased from Burmese social memory the idea that there could be limits in warfare.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Buddhism, Burma, Myanmar, Royal Imaginary, Non-combatants
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
ISSN: 14639947
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2021 11:09

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