Advancing Studies in religion

Seeding Buddhism with Multiculturalism

By D. Mitra Barua
April 2019

Immigrants often face considerable challenges when it comes to preserving their cultural and religious teachings. D. Mitra Barua argues that the Sri Lankan Buddhist community in Toronto has maintained its coherence and integrity not despite but because of the need for cultural adaptations.

Drawing on survey data, over fifty in-depth interviews with temple monks, educators, parents, and children, and fieldwork conducted in Toronto and Colombo, Sri Lanka, Seeding Buddhism with Multiculturalism examines how a religious tradition is transmitted from one generation to the next in a new cultural setting, and what happens during that process of transmission. Barua demonstrates that Buddhists have passed on Buddhist beliefs, attitudes, and practices to their Canadian-born youth, who in turn have constructed their own distinct Buddhist identity, influenced by the individualistic, egalitarian, and secular cultural ambience in Toronto. Through creative fieldwork and translocal analysis – taking into account migrants’ geographical, cultural, and familial ties to multiple locales – this book further explains that pre-migration experiences often shape and determine the success or failure of intergenerational transmission.

An ethnographic religious study with an uncommon depth of perspective, Seeding Buddhism with Multiculturalism shows that first- and second-generation Sri Lankan Buddhists in Toronto are successfully practising Theravada Buddhism within a Canadian context.

Buy this publication at McGill-Queen's University Press

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