From Publishers Weekly
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.
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"A heartening look at American Buddhist institutions whose basic viability seems secure. . . . Readers get a sympathetic yet realistic assessment of the substantial gains dharma has made in the U.S."
(Richard Hughes Seager Buddhadharma
"Cadge's methodology contributes to the kinds of questions and areas to explore when assessing the different types of Buddhists in North America. This book will appeal to scholars of North American-based Buddhism, and to sociologists interested in non-Christian religious organizxations in the United States, especially the transitions and transformations in religious identities."
(Janet McLellan Canadian Journal of Sociology
“[Heartwood] is arguably the most significant publication on American Buddhism in several years.. . . . Not since Paul Numrich’s path-breaking Old Wisdom in the New World (1996) has such a substantial, in-depth ethnography of multiple Buddhist temples in America been produced.. . . Heartwood is a study in how to do ethnography in America right, and new researchers preparing to go into the field will find a useful model to emulate in its pages.”
(Jeff Wilson Journal of Global Buddhism
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