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Themes And Issues In The Study Of North American Buddhists And Buddhism

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Chapter Summary

The thematic explorations presented in this chapter rely to some extent on descriptive and ethnographic research involving Buddhists in Toronto. Buddhists who utilize religious beliefs, practices, and institutions to enhance ethnic, national, and linguistic identities are differentiated from those, who in the literature, are commonly identified as converts, although the validity of the criteria supporting conversion is questioned. The chapter examines the extent to which different groups or communities work toward public presence and social inclusion that, in turn, reflects the role that social capital plays in enabling them to engage in the politics of recognition and representation (ranging from local social service involvement to that of transnational networks and linkages). The concluding analysis of generational continuities and conflicts highlights ongoing changes and challenges to Buddhism within the larger North American context, complicating existing conceptual frameworks for the analysis and identification of Buddhists.

Keywords: Buddhists; North America; politics of recognition; religious beliefs; social service involvement; Toronto



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