Undermining Authority: The Representation of Buddhism and Discourse on Modernity in Religion Education Textbooks
Kai Arne Nyborg [+]
University of Tromso - The Arctic University of Norway
This chapter focuses on the representation of Buddhism in RE-textbooks for upper secondary school in Australia and Norway. I attempt to demonstrate that the textbooks take the majority religion – Christianity, as well as particular ideas, norms, values from the textbook national context, as point of reference in representing Buddhism. In analyzing the textbooks I use a discursive approach (Fairclough 1992, Laclau & Mouffe 1985/2001, Lincoln 2003) and perspectives from current theory of religion (C. Martin 2009, L. Martin 2014). The interpretative strategies involved in the representation of Buddhism have theoretical consequences. I argue from a perspective of postcolonial criticism (Said 1978/1993) that the presentations of Buddhism reproduce orientalist structures creating a dichotomy between eastern and western culture and society. I argue from a perspective of cultural theory (Bourdieu 1977/2005) that the textbooks perform symbolic violence in misrecognizing Christian language as cross-cultural and comparative, and the textbook authors own context and understanding, as adequate representing Buddhism.