The Audience and the Spectacle: Bodu Bala Sena and the Controversy of Buddhist Political Activism in Sri Lanka

  • Michael Hertzberg
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


In Sri Lanka, the virulent nationalist Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena was able to create a political momentum in 2013–2015 through a series of rhetorical manoeuvres against the Muslim minorities in the country. By producing public spectacles out of controversies around sacred sites and religious practices, Bodu Bala Sena deliberately played out their political rhetoric on multiple audiences. Hence, the role of the spectacle is to incur a form of identity-based political momentum, where the notions of friend-enemy are broadcasted universally through particularized messages to multiple audiences. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Bodu Bala Sena, the chapter will contribute to a deeper understanding of how rhetorical repertoires and religious authority engage in the interstices of religion, politics and public debate.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Hertzberg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BergenBergenNorway

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