University of Toronto
Tony focuses on the intersection of Pali literature, contemplative practice, and Buddhist statecraft in twentieth-century Southeast Asia. To capture both the substance and context of these interconnections, his sources range from classical Pali exegeses, mid-twentieth-century newspapers, biographies of monks and nuns, government documents, meditation manuals, palm-leaf manuscripts, and stelae collections of scripture. These sources act as a vector for Tony’s philological method informed by vernacular paradigms, but also a critical historiography of texts, practices, and attainments that seeks to uncover how these different spheres influence and support each other in the formation of textual communities and Buddhist polities.
Research related to commentary
Tony’s dissertation research centres on an Pali commentary published in 1948, the epistemology of commentary per se, the role of the ascetic lifestyle and vipassanā (insight) meditation in the hermeneutical process, and how commentary is a stabilising force in the creation of a ‘canon,’ but also a threat to monastic and state hierarchies. His conclusions shed light on the nature of Buddhist commentary in general, revealing not only the intertextuality of exegesis and the internal logic of explication, but also how commentary is shaped by and shapes the society and culture in which it is embedded.