How do contemporary Westerners and Tibetans understand not only what it means to be 'Buddhist', but what it means to be hailed as one from 'the West' or from 'Tibet'? This anthropological study examines the encounter between Western travellers and Tibetan exiles in Bodhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal and analyses the importance of Buddhism in discussions of political, cultural and religious identity.
Based on extensive field research in Nepal, Buddhism Observed questions traditional assumptions about Buddhism and examines the rarely considered phenomenon of Western conversions to a non-Western religion. Scholars of Anthropology, Religion and Cultural Studies will find here a refreshing insight into how to approach 'other' societies, religions and cultures.
'The book offers a valuable, well-organized, and persuasive picture of an important relationship in the history of modern Buddhism.' - Social Anthropology
Asia today is one of the most dynamic regions of the world. The previously predominant image of ‘timeless peasants’ has given way to the image of fast-paced business people, mass consumerism and high-rise urban conglomerations. Yet much discourse remains entrenched in the polarities of East versus West’, ‘Tradition versus Change’. This series hopes to provide a forum for anthropological studies which break with such polarities. It will publish titles dealing with cosmopolitanism, cultural identity, representations, arts and performance. The complexities of urban Asia, its elites, its political rituals, and its families will also be explored.