1st Edition

Decolonising the Study of Religion Who Owns Buddhism?

By Jørn Borup Copyright 2024
    240 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Decolonising the Study of Religion analyses historical and contemporary discussions in the study of religion and Buddhism and critically investigates representations, possibilities, and challenges of a decolonial approach, addressing the important question: who owns Buddhism?


    The monograph offers a case-based perspective with which to examine the general study of religion, where new challenges require reflection and prospects for new directions. It focuses on Buddhism, one religion which has been studied in the West for centuries. Building on postcolonial theories and supplemented with a critical analysis of identity and postsecular engagement, the book offers new possibilities and challenges to the study of religion. It critically investigates decolonisation in the study of religion, subscribing to a third way between ‘objectivist’ and ‘subjectivist’ positions.


    Analysing the postcolonial and decolonial critique of the study of religion, with a particular focus on Buddhist studies in the West and in Japan, this book will be of interest to researchers in the field of Religious Studies, Buddhism, Japanese religions, anthropology, Asian Studies and those interested in religion and decolonisation.

    Chapter 1. Introduction; Chapter 2. Decolonisation; Chapter 3. Colonial Religion and Decolonising the Study of Religion; Chapter 4. Colonial and Decolonial Buddhism; Chapter 5. Buddhist Studies in the West: From Science of Religion to Buddhology and Postcolonialism; Chapter 6. Decolonising Buddhist Studies in the West; Chapter 7. Modern and Colonial Buddhism In Japan; Chapter 8. Modern and Postcolonial Buddhist and Religious Studies in Japan; Chapter 9. Critical Discussion of Decolonial Critique; Conclusion: Decolonising Buddhist and Religious Studies, and Beyond; Index


    Jørn Borup is Associate Professor in the Department of the Study of Religion at Aarhus University, Denmark.

    “The monograph makes an extremely important contribution to a multi-layered debate that has been intensely preoccupying not only religious and Buddhist studies for several years. The timing of the publication is excellent, as the book makes a decisive contribution to objectifying a debate that often drifts into polemics and polarisation. I cannot but strongly recommend this book for publication.”

    – Christoph Kleine, University of Leipzig, Germany

    “Borup’s book addresses important and timely issues for the study of Buddhism and Religious Studies as a whole.”

    – Stephen C. Berkwitz, Missouri State University, USA