Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Steven Vose

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Oren Stier

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Christine Gudorf

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Buddhism, Religion and Violence, Feminism, Myanmar, Theravada, Burma

Date of Defense



This thesis uses transnational and Black feminist frameworks to analyze Buddhist nationalist discourses of gender and violence against religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar. Burmese Buddhist nationalists’ marginalization of the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority is inextricably linked to their attempts to control Buddhist women. Research includes interviews with U Ashin Wirathu, the leader of the monastic-led nationalist group, the 969 Movement, and with other monks of the organization, as well as with non-nationalist monks, nuns and laywomen. I also analyze Theravada textual discourse as read by my subjects in light of the history of Myanmar to understand the ways the local Theravada tradition has marginalized women and non-Buddhists. By connecting the lack of bhikkhuni ordination and laws hindering Buddhist women from marrying non-Buddhist men with the portrayal of the Rohingya as a threat to the nation, I show how Buddhist nationalists attempt to consolidate power and forestall the democratization process.





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