Be the Refuge

Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists

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Chenxing Han
  • Berkeley, CA: 
    North Atlantic Books
    , January
     2021.
     344 pages.
     $17.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9781623175238.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jessica Zu forthcoming.

Description

A must-read for modern sanghas–Asian American Buddhists in their own words, on their own terms.

Despite the fact that two thirds of U.S. Buddhists identify as Asian American, mainstream perceptions about what it means to be Buddhist in America often whitewash and invisibilize the diverse, inclusive, and intersectional communities that lie at the heart of American Buddhism.

Be the Refuge is both critique and celebration, calling out the erasure of Asian American Buddhists while uplifting the complexity and nuance of their authentic stories and vital, thriving communities. Drawn from in-depth interviews with a pan-ethnic, pan-Buddhist group, Be the Refuge is the first book to center young Asian American Buddhists’ own voices. With insights from multi-generational, second-generation, convert, and socially engaged Asian American Buddhists, Be the Refuge includes the stories of trailblazers, bridge-builders, integrators, and refuge-makers who hail from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.

Championing nuanced representation over stale stereotypes, Han and the 89 interviewees in Be the Refuge push back against false narratives like the Oriental monk, the superstitious immigrant, and the banana Buddhist–typecasting that collapses the multivocality of Asian American Buddhists into tired, essentialized tropes. Encouraging frank conversations about race, representation, and inclusivity among Buddhists of all backgrounds, Be the Refuge embodies the spirit of interconnection that glows at the heart of American Buddhism.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Chenxing Han is a Bay Area-based writer whose publications have appeared in BuddhadharmaJournal of Global BuddhismLion’s RoarPacific WorldTricycle, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Buddhist studies from the Graduate Theological Union. After studying chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California, she worked in spiritual care at a nearby community hospital in Oakland. Be the Refuge is her first book.

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