Mellichamp Chair Alison Brysk (Department of Global Studies and Sociology, University of California Santa Barbara) has published a new essay in Human Rights Review titled, "Engaged Buddhism as Human Rights Ethos: the Constructivist Quest for Cosmopolitanism." Please see below for the abstract and link to the full essay:
As the fundamental authority of universal rights claims are contested in a declining liberal international order, constructivists seek to transcend the limits of the Western, rationalist rights ethos and explore humanistic spiritual alternatives. This essay will evaluate the promise of a leading non-Western cosmopolitan ethos: engaged Buddhism. Buddhism offers a vision of universal compassion and moral responsibility that has shaped influential global advocacy efforts, with the potential to address a significant sector of the world community. But the Buddhist ethos has functioned as both a source of and a challenge to state power and nationalist identity in an era of globalization. Through examining a range of contemporary movements of engaged Buddhism in Tibet, Burma, Thailand, and Taiwan, we will see how this form of religious cosmopolitanism can play a role in constructing a rights ethos—if and when it maintains critical autonomy and Buddhist spiritual detachment from worldly power.