While academic and popular studies of Buddhism have often neglected race as a factor of analysis, the issues concerning race and racialization have remained not far below the surface of the wider discussion among ethnic Buddhists, converts and sympathizers regarding representation of American Buddhism and adaptations of Buddhist practices to the US context.
In Race and Religion in American Buddhism, Joseph Cheah provides a much-needed contribution to the field of religious studies by addressing the under-theorization of race in the study of American Buddhism.Through the lens of racial formation, Cheah demonstrates how adaptations of Buddhist practices by immigrants, converts, and sympathizers have taken place within an environment already permeated with the logic and ideology of whiteness. In other words, race and Buddhism are so intimately bounded together in the US that the hegemony of whiteness informs the differing ways in which convert Buddhists and sympathizers and Burmese Buddhists have adapted Buddhist practices to an American context.
Joseph Cheah is an Associate Professor of Comparative Theology, chaplain, and chair of the department of Religious Studies and Theology at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. His academic area of specialization is Interdisciplinary Study, focusing on cultural and historical study of race and religions (namely, Buddhism and Christianity). He is the author of Race and Religion in American Buddhism published by Oxford University Press, 2011. Along with Grace Ji-Sun Kim, he is currently one of the series editors of “Asian Christianity in Diaspora” (Palgrave).