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Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. Photo credit:, AntanO

MA graduate researches Buddhist diplomacy in Sri Lanka

Myra Sivaloganathan graduated with an MA in Religious Studies in 2017. We are grateful to her for taking the time to answer some of our questions about what she is currently doing and what she learned in her time at McMaster!

Oct 25, 2017

Where has your graduate education taken you?

I am currently pursuing research on Buddhist diplomacy for the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in Sri Lanka, under a fellowship from the Asia Foundation. For my MA in Religious Studies, I explored discourses of ethno-nationalism and religious fundamentalism in contemporary Sri Lanka. At McMaster, I was given the opportunity to study Sinhala and complete three months of ethnographic fieldwork in Colombo and Jaffna.

What drew you to pursue graduate work in Religious Studies at McMaster in particular?

The interdisciplinary nature of the department—which includes historical, literary, anthropological, and sociological approaches—and the possibility of continuing to explore philosophy, politics, and other social sciences in tandem with my research drew me to McMaster's Religious Studies department. I was also drawn by the strength of the faculty in the Asian Field, and its expertise in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese Buddhist traditions.

How did your experience in our program prepare you for the work you are doing now?

Fieldwork exposed me to Sri Lanka’s contemporary socio-political life, and the progress of post-war initiatives such as constitutional reform and transitional justice. My Master’s research in the Religious Studies department prepared me well for my current research, especially through explorations of socially-conditioned and politically-motivated discourse.

Is there one aspect of the program or of graduate student life in general that stands out for you?

I appreciated opportunities to work as a teaching assistant, and to represent graduate students at departmental meetings. These opportunities allow students to engage more fully in and get a better sense of academic life.

Any advice to incoming or prospective students?

My advice to incoming students is to make the most of opportunities afforded. Take advantage of the graduate experience to explore your intellectual interests fully, and develop independence and self-motivation in your research.


Myra Sivaloganathan, MA in Religious Studies, 2017Read more about Myra at