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Contesting “Conversion” and “Reversion” among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists

Independent Scholar, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Religions 2019, 10(4), 261;
Received: 12 March 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 11 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism in the United States and Canada)
This paper engages the perspectives of thirty young adult Asian American Buddhists (YAAABs) raised in non-Buddhist households. Grounded in semi-structured, one-on-one in-person and email interviews, my research reveals the family tensions and challenges of belonging faced by a group straddling multiple religious and cultural worlds. These young adults articulate their alienation from both predominantly white and predominantly Asian Buddhist communities in America. On the one hand, they express ambivalence over adopting the label of “convert” because of its Christian connotations as well as its associations with whiteness in the American Buddhist context. On the other hand, they lack the familiarity with Asian Buddhist cultures experienced by second- or multi-generation YAAABs who grew up in Buddhist families. In their nuanced responses to arguments that (1) American convert Buddhism is a non-Asian phenomenon, and (2) Asians in the West can only “revert” to Buddhism, these young adults assert the plurality and hybridity of their lived experiences as representative of all American Buddhists, rather than incidental characteristics of a fringe group within a white-dominated category. View Full-Text
Keywords: Asian American; Buddhism; young adult; conversion; reversion; identity Asian American; Buddhism; young adult; conversion; reversion; identity
MDPI and ACS Style

Han, C. Contesting “Conversion” and “Reversion” among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists. Religions 2019, 10, 261.

AMA Style

Han C. Contesting “Conversion” and “Reversion” among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists. Religions. 2019; 10(4):261.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Han, Chenxing. 2019. "Contesting “Conversion” and “Reversion” among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists" Religions 10, no. 4: 261.

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