While an increasing amount of attention has been paid in the last decade to mindfulness meditation, the broader impact of Buddhism on healthcare in the United States, or any industrialized Western countries, is still much in need of scholarly investigation. The current article presents preliminary results from an ethnographic study exploring the impact of a wide range of Buddhist institutions, practices, and cultural orientations on the healthcare landscape of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. By particularly focusing on segments of the population that are non-white and that have limited English language skills, one of the main goals of this project is to bring more diverse voices into the contemporary conversation about Buddhism and wellbeing in America. Moreover, as it extends far beyond the topic of meditation, this study also is intended to highlight a wider range of practices and orientations toward health and healing that are current in contemporary American Buddhism. Finally, this paper also forwards the argument that the study of these activities should be grounded in an appreciation of how individual Buddhist institutions are situated within specific local contexts, and reflect unique configurations of local factors.
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