“Intercultural Mimesis,” Empire, and Spirits

Alexandra Kaloyanides


This article surveys the impact of the concept of “intercultural mimesis” from Charles Hallisey’s “Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravāda Buddhism,” with specific attention to the way this chapter guides scholars toward more localized examinations of how representations of Buddhism are produced. The article provides examples of intercultural mimesis from nineteenth-century Burma that suggest that future work on Theravada Buddhism should develop “intercultural mimesis” in two ways: 1) revitalized attention to how structures of empire shape and are shaped by local interactions and 2) new experimentation with writing histories of Asian cultures that include nonhuman beings such as spirits, gods, and ghosts. The author argues that these directions will advance Hallisey’s call to investigate Buddhism’s multiple mediators and to resist giving too much power over to imperial endeavors.


Theravada Buddhism; intercultural mimesis; Burma; spirits; empire

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4727542


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