Book Review: Issei Buddhism in the Americas

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I recently had the privilege of reviewing Duncan Ryuken Williams and Tomoe Moriya’s edited volume, Issei Buddhism in the Americas (2010) for the Journal of Asian American Studies. It’s out in the most recent issue (15.2).

I liked the book quite a bit, and I think it shows in the review. I was really struck by how much of it was done in relation to Asian American Christianity and was very intrigued by its call to ramp up Buddhist studies for a more comprehensive contribution to religious studies, Asian American studies, and Asian studies. It features some very strong essays that serve as great introductions to various scholars in Asian American Buddhist studies and presents the key sources of historic first-generation Japanese American forms of Buddhist practice and teaching very well. I also appreciated them reaching out to Latin American and Canadian contexts as well in an attempt to paint a fuller picture of the Americas.

Thank you, JAAS, for inviting me to write this review. I want to thank Cindy Wu, the book reviews editor, for managing the review process so well. I also thank Rudy Busto (UC Santa Barbara) and Sharon Suh (Seattle University) for their very encouraging and constructive comments on earlier drafts of the piece and for being such inspiring mentors as the field of Asian North American religious studies continues to grow.

Converge Magazine, 7: Out of Order

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I recently wrote a piece on my wedding manager and his wife, Chris and Annie Fong, as a reflection on Chinese evangelicals and marriage. It is available in the current issue (#7) of Converge Magazine, a Canadian evangelical publication targeted to young people. This sort of popular article stands in the tradition of religion scholars such as Christian Smith, Tanya Luhrmann, and Russell Jeung writing in confessional magazines as a way of disseminating their academic research.

This article wrestles with the looseness of terms like ‘Chineseness,’ ‘evangelicalism,’ and ‘biblical gender roles’ and asks readers to consider narrative as a way of Christian spirituality that is more grounded than ideal typologies. Those who are more academically inclined will understand that I am drawing heavily on literature from critical Chinese diaspora studies, Asian American studies, and post-liberal theologies to make my point. Those who are attuned to issues within evangelicalism will recognize the gender debates around hierarchicalism, complementarianism, and egalitarianism as I review some of the existing popular evangelical literature on gender, sexuality, and marriage. It’s not written with a very academic tone; it’s meant for a wide, popular audience; and it’s absolutely meant to muddy the waters of simplistic, orientalist notions of East v. West for evangelical readers.

My hope is that this article is helpful to evangelical communities while serving as a source document for people interested in Asian North American religious studies. I want to thank Chris and Annie for letting me write about them, Shara Lee for being a fantastic editor, Casey Phaisalakani for taking great photos, and Carmen Bright for designing this so well.

Guest Lecture: Asia-Pacific Transnationalisms and Urban Geography

Tonight I am giving a guest lecture on Asia-Pacific transnational migrations and urban geography in a course on urban geography (Geography 350) at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver taught by my friend, Nicholas Lynch. I’ll be discussing transnational urbanisms, the feminization of migrant labour, Chinese transnationalisms and alternate Asian modernities, and the desire for global cities in the Asia-Pacific.  Of course, I have a plug on religion, migration, and the city toward the end as well.

I’m hoping to be able to do a few more guest lectures so as to have some talks prepared for when I get to teach a full-on course in topics such as urban geography, migration studies, and ethnic studies.