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Religions 2019, 10(4), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040261

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

Independent Scholar, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
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)
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PDF [277 KB, uploaded 15 April 2019]

Abstract

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
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Han, C. Contesting “Conversion” and “Reversion” among Young Adult Asian American Buddhists. Religions 2019, 10, 261.

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