Response paper

Select three (3) questions and answer them in essay format. Please use complete sentences.

1. Despite extensive external influences over the centuries, indigenous beliefs about the supernatural continue to survive and thrive in Southeast Asia. What are the shared indigenous beliefs that are still found throughout the region, and why do they matter?

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2. In Southeast Asia, generally speaking, religious change over the centuries has involved a lot of “syncretism” or “localization,” instead of the complete replacement of one religion by another. What does this process involve, and what does it mean in terms of how ordinary people practice the major world religions like Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity there? In your answer, please focus on one such religion that is practiced currently in the region.

3. The concept of “soul stuff” has been mentioned throughout this course in many different contexts. What is it, and how useful is it in gaining a proper understanding of religion and society in Southeast Asia?

4. Through the process known as “Indianization,” Hinduism and Buddhism “travelled together” to early, pre-colonial Southeast Asia. Please explain this process, and discuss the significant ways in which these two religious traditions transformed the region many centuries ago.

5. In our readings and lectures, we encountered several examples where religion played a significant role in anti-colonialism and other, more recent political movements in Southeast Asia. Why does religion hold so much political power? Please relate one such example (from any time period or place), describe its religious aspects, and discuss its broader political and social impact.

6. One of the recurring themes in our readings and lectures was the often contentious relationship between “elite” and “popular” religious practices of the same religion in modern Southeast Asia. Focusing on one major religion in one country, please explain the differences between these two types of practice, and discuss the religious and political tensions that exist between them.

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