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Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America (Morality and Society)

Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America (Morality and Society) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Theravada is one of the three main branches of Buddhism. In Asia it is practiced widely in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. This fascinating ethnography opens a window onto two communities of Theravada Buddhists in contemporary America: one outside Philadelphia that is composed largely of Thai immigrants and one outside Boston that consists mainly of white converts.

Wendy Cadge first provides a historical overview of Theravada Buddhism and considers its specific origins here in the United States. She then brings her findings to bear on issues of personal identity, immigration, cultural assimilation, and the nature of religion in everyday life. Her work is the first systematic comparison of the ways in which immigrant and convert Buddhists understand, practice, and adapt the Buddhist tradition in America. The men and women whom Cadge meets and observes speak directly to us in this work, both in their personal testimonials and as they meditate, pray, and practice Buddhism.

Creative and insightful, Heartwood will be of enormous value to sociologists of religion and anyone wishing to understand the rise of Buddhism in the Western world.

Review:

"Cadge, assistant professor of sociology at Bowdoin College, presents a carefully considered ethnography examining 'how Buddhism arrived in the United States and is... adapting' to its new context.Specifically, she focuses on Theravada Buddhism, the branch practiced in such Southeast Asian countries as Thailand and Sri Lanka. She begins with an overview of the history of Theravada Buddhism and its establishment in the U.S. by both Asian immigrants and — separately — American-born converts who had studied in Asia. She spends the bulk of the book focusing on Wat Phila, a Thai temple near Philadelphia founded and attended by native Thais, and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), founded and attended primarily by white Americans. Drawing on extensive field work, Cadge compares and contrasts gender roles in each center, how each center creates identity as a community and how, despite common roots, each defines the 'heartwood,' or core of being Buddhist, differently. (Wat Phila consciously emphasizes the centrality of ritual, while CIMC consciously de-emphasizes it.) Although Cadge's descriptions of Wat Phila's and CIMC's practices and people are often detailed and her theses are clearly articulated, her approach is academic (the project began as her doctoral dissertation). The result is an informative study that will appeal more to the scholarly set than to rank-and-file Buddhist practitioners." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Wendy Cadge is assistant professor of sociology at Bowdoin College.

Table of Contents

Note on Terminology

Acknowledgments

1. Arrivals and a Map of the Journey

2. The History of Theravada Buddhism in America

3. New Organizations: Wat Mongkoltepmunee (Wat Phila) and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC)

4. Lived Buddhism: The Construction of Teaching and Practice at Wat Phila and CIMC

5. Refuge in the Sangha: The Shape of Buddhist Communities

6. Ascribed and Achieved Buddhist Identities

7. Observations through a Gendered Lens

8. Taking Stock, Looking Forward

Appendix A. Research Methods

Appendix B. Refuges and Precepts

Reference List

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226089003
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Location:
Chicago
Author:
Cadge, Wendy
Subject:
History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Buddhism
Subject:
Asia, southeastern
Subject:
Theravada Buddhism
Subject:
Buddhist converts.
Subject:
Buddhist centers
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
Buddhism - Theravada
Subject:
Southeast Asian Americans
Subject:
Theravada Buddhism - United States -
Subject:
Southeast Asian Americans - United States -
Subject:
General-General
Edition Description:
1
Series:
Morality and Society Series
Series Volume:
2619
Publication Date:
20041031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
19 halftones, 3 figures, 3 tables
Pages:
278
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Linguistics » Specific Languages and Groups
Reference » Words Phrases and Language
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » Theravada
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » Theravada Buddhism

Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America (Morality and Society)
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Product details 278 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226089003 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Cadge, assistant professor of sociology at Bowdoin College, presents a carefully considered ethnography examining 'how Buddhism arrived in the United States and is... adapting' to its new context.Specifically, she focuses on Theravada Buddhism, the branch practiced in such Southeast Asian countries as Thailand and Sri Lanka. She begins with an overview of the history of Theravada Buddhism and its establishment in the U.S. by both Asian immigrants and — separately — American-born converts who had studied in Asia. She spends the bulk of the book focusing on Wat Phila, a Thai temple near Philadelphia founded and attended by native Thais, and the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), founded and attended primarily by white Americans. Drawing on extensive field work, Cadge compares and contrasts gender roles in each center, how each center creates identity as a community and how, despite common roots, each defines the 'heartwood,' or core of being Buddhist, differently. (Wat Phila consciously emphasizes the centrality of ritual, while CIMC consciously de-emphasizes it.) Although Cadge's descriptions of Wat Phila's and CIMC's practices and people are often detailed and her theses are clearly articulated, her approach is academic (the project began as her doctoral dissertation). The result is an informative study that will appeal more to the scholarly set than to rank-and-file Buddhist practitioners." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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