IBS Alum Chenxing Han Debuts First Book, “Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian-American Buddhists”
Gesshin Claire Greenwood | February 9, 2021
On Thursday, January 28th, IBS Alum Chenxing Han was joined by Dean Scott Mitchell and Rev. Harry Bridges to celebrate the launch of her debut book Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian-American Buddhists. 175 participants also joined the conversation via zoom.
In this conversation followed by a Q&A, Han discusses the inspiration and impetus for writing this book, the complexity of claiming and naming a pan “Asian-American” identity, and how race functions within American Buddhism to dictate who can claim “authentic” practice. She speaks of her own (and many other’s) struggles in claiming a Buddhist identity, a feeling of belonging in neither mainstream white American nor first generation immigrant Buddhist spaces, due to language or cultural barriers. Her book is therefore simultaneously activism, scholarship, and memoir. In addition to documenting and analyzing Asian-American Buddhist voices for use in academic settings, she also conceives of the books as “a form of spiritual care” and “community building.”
Visit chenxinghan.com to purchase the book.
Sources cited during the talk:
- Aaron J. Lee of the Angry Asian Buddhist: http://www.
- Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil article on the Young Buddhist Editorial https://
religionnews.com/2021/01/27/ online-forum-helps-asian- americans-find-their-way-in- americanized-buddhism/ ( reprinted in the Washington Post). YBE is also mentioned in this Buddhistdoor Global article
- BOCA Youth Group: https://www.facebook.
- Jane Iwamura on the Oriental monk figure, from her book Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture: https://global.oup.
com/academic/product/virtual- orientalism-9780199738618?cc= us&lang=en&
- On the vandalization of Buddhist temples in Southern California: https://
religionnews.com/2020/12/10/ buddhist-temple-attacks-rise- as-covid-19-amplifies-anti- asian-american-bias/
- Duncan Williams’ book American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War: https://www.
- bell hooks on who has the power to represent American Buddhism: https://tricycle.
- Pew Forum 2012 report on religion among Asian Americans: https://www.
pewforum.org/2012/07/19/asian- americans-a-mosaic-of-faiths- overview/
- Wanwan Lu’s film Youth Group: https://raifilm.org.uk/