Women in British Buddhism: Commitment, Connection, Community, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women in British Buddhism

Commitment, Connection, Community, 1st Edition

By Caroline Starkey


256 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138087460
pub: 2019-08-26
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Based on detailed ethnographic research, this book explores the varied experiences of women who have converted to Buddhism in contemporary Britain and analyses the implications of their experiences for understanding the translation and transference of Buddhist practices temporally and geographically.

This book examines how women initially engage with Buddhist groups, their perspectives on religious discipline, and their relationships to ideas of gender equality and feminism. Whilst the recent study of Buddhism outside Asia has tended to emphasise the transnational and the global, this book counters this, highlighting the significance of locality and immediate community in contemporary women's faith practices. Showcasing the narratives and life-stories of twenty-five ordained women across seven different Buddhist groups connected to Britain, the research in this book challenges uncritical assumptions made about 'Western' women who engage with Buddhist practices, and provides a new framing of contemporary ordination through a detailed and holistic examination of a group of Buddhist practitioners that have received little focused attention.

The first multi-tradition study of ordained Buddhist women in Britain, this book will be of interests to academics working in the fields of Buddhist Studies, Religious Studies, Gender Studies, Asian Studies and Sociology of Religion.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction, Context and Method; 2 Buddhism in Britain; 3 British Buddhist Women and Narratives of Conversion; 4 Deepening Commitment: The Path to Ordination; 5 Buddha Couture: Ordained Buddhist Women and Dress; 6 Loaded Words - Attitudes to Feminism and Gender Equality; 7 Pioneers and Volunteers: Women Building British Buddhism; 8 Conclusion

About the Author

Caroline Starkey is Associate Professor of Religion and Society at the University of Leeds, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism is a comprehensive study of the Buddhist tradition. The series explores this complex and extensive tradition from a variety of perspectives, using a range of different methodologies. The series is diverse in its focus, including historical, philological, cultural, and sociological investigations into the manifold features and expressions of Buddhism worldwide. It also presents works of constructive and reflective analysis, including the role of Buddhist thought and scholarship in a contemporary, critical context and in the light of current social issues. The series is expansive and imaginative in scope, spanning more than two and a half millennia of Buddhist history. It is receptive to all research works that are of significance and interest to the broader field of Buddhist Studies.

Some of the titles in the series are published in association with the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, which conducts and promotes rigorous teaching and research into all forms of the Buddhist tradition.

Editorial Advisory Board:
James A. Benn, McMaster University, Canada

Jinhua Chen, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Rupert Gethin, University of Bristol, UK

Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland, UK

Sallie King, James Madison University, USA

Anne Klein, Rice University, USA

Lori Meeks, University of Southern California, USA;

Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

John Powers, Australian National University, Australia;

Juliane Schober, Arizona State University, USA

Vesna A. Wallace, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Michael Zimmermann, University of Hamburg, Germany

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Buddhism / Rituals & Practice
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies