Towards an anthropology of Buddhism. Ethnography, theory, and comparison 

(journal special issue edited by Patrice Ladwig (MPI MMG) & Nicolas Sihlé (Centre d'études himalayennes, CNRS)

Patrice Ladwig

- completed -

The groundwork for the academic study of the anthropology of Buddhism was established in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since then, although the anthropology of Islam, and even more of Christianity, have undergone a resurgence, it seems that scholarship on the anthropology of Buddhism has largely fragmented into a variety of disconnected concerns. However, in the last few years, a new interest in the ‘anthropology of Buddhism’, as an ethnographically-based, comparatively- and theoretically-informed collective endeavor has begun to emerge. The present project aims to give expression to this emergent innovative dynamic, which involves sustained intellectual exchanges between specialists of very different kinds of Buddhism. The special issue resulting from the project presents an assessment of, and comparative engagement with, current scholarship on the topic. Beyond the bounds of the national, regional and ethnic traditions, the publication therefore addresses themes and topics that are not only of interest for regional or Buddhist studies readership, but, with its focus on comparison and theory, also reaches out to a broader anthropological audience.

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