Menue phone
all research fellows

Dr. Madlen Krüger

Senior Research Fellow


Areas of interest

  • Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia
  • Religion and politic relations in South and Southeast Asia
  • Religious plurality in Myanmar

Notions of Secularity within the Discourse of Democratisation in Myanmar

In 2003, the military regime in Myanmar announced its “roadmap to a discipline-flourishing democracy”. Among other things, this roadmap to democracy has included a new constitution, ratified in 2008, and general elections in 2010 and 2015. Since the general election in 2010, which marked the beginning of the so-called opening of the country, Myanmar’s democratisation process has come under the scrutiny of the West and has been critically discussed by the general public in Myanmar for the first time. Buddhist monk movements have played a considerable role in this process. Monks are the driving force behind Buddhist activism and participate in various social and political spheres. In the course of Myanmar’s history, the relationship between the state and the sangha has been contested and renegotiated in times of political change. This can be seen in the changes to the sangha’s governance in the colonial period, the building of a modern nation state with Buddhism as the state religion following independence in 1948, and, in the time of the military governments (1962-2010), in the general restrictions placed on religious activities and control over the sangha by shifting religious institutions.

I will look at two monk movements at different stages of the democratisation process. My focus will be on how religious activities are defined in relation to other fields of engagement and how boundaries are shaped in ways that sanction activities. I will focus on (1) the All Burma Monks’ Alliance (ABMA), founded in 2007, which came to the public’s attention because of its role in the demonstrations referred to as the “Saffron Revolution” and the junta’s brutal crackdown on the movement, and (2) the Patriotic Association of Myanmar (MaBaTha), reorganised in 2013 and highly controversial because of its members’ hate speech and violence against the country’s Muslim minority. Both movements were established by Buddhist monks and influence the discussion surrounding the monastic vocation and how this is distinct from other fields of engagement. I will also include perceptions of religious minority groups like Christians, Hindus and Muslims to show how other religious communities are drawing lines between religious and non-religious activities in light of the controversy surrounding Buddhist engagement in Myanmar.



Research Associate, DFG research project „Religious pluralism in discourse - Buddhists and Christians in Myanmar“, Seminar for Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster (Germany)


Doctoral dissertation defended, Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany)


Research Assistant, Teaching project „No problem“ India in a global context“, inSTUDIES Ruhr-University Bochum


Research Assistant, Käte Hamburger Kolleg for Humanities “Dynamics in the History of Religion between Asia and Europe‟ (KHK), Ruhr-University Bochum

Research Assistant, Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr-University Bochum


Graduate Assistant, Faculty of History, Arts and Oriental Studies, Leipzig University (Germany)


Magistra Artium, Study of Religion, Indology, Leipzig University

Relevant Publications

  • Krüger, Madlen. “Stereotyping the Other - Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus and their perception of the Other in contemporary Myanmar.” The Journal of Burma Studies (under review)
  • Krüger, Madlen. “The emergence of different conceptions of religious pluralism in Myanmar.” In Emergent Religious Pluralism. Edited by John Fahy. Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming 2018).
  • Krüger, Madlen. Konstruktion von Kontinuität. Der Kampf um eine institutionelle Leerstelle in Sri Lanka. Peter Lang (forthcoming 2018).
  • Krüger, Madlen. “Theravada Buddhism and Politics.” In Buddhist and Christian Attitudes to Religious Diversity. Edited by Hans-Peter Großhans et al., 234-44. Yangon: Ling´s Family Publications, 2017.
  • Krüger, Madlen. “Demarcation versus Conjunction. Challenged Interdependencies of Religious and Secular Notions in Pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial Times in Sri Lanka,” Special Issue: Religion as a Colonial Concept in Modern History (America, Asia), SMSR 82-2, 2016:814-38.
  • Krüger, Madlen. “ 'Sangha Power!' - Legitimationsstrategien politischer Mönche in Sri Lanka.” In Mauss, Buddhismus, Devianz, Festschrift für Heinz Mürmel zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Thomas Hase et al., 217-31. Marburg: diagonal-Verlag, 2009.