The most common description of the supernatural landscape in Vietnam makes a distinction between Buddhist and non-Buddhist “sides.” The “Buddha side” (ben phat) is the focus of this investigation into the intersection of gender, power, and religious praxis. Employing an anthropological approach to Buddhist practice that takes into account modes of action that are not only socially constructed and contextual, but also negotiated by the actors, The Buddha Side: Gender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam, by Alexander Soucy, uniquely explores how gender and age affect understandings of what it means to be a Buddhist.
“The Buddha Side is an outstanding study. Embracing complexity and variation, Alexander Soucy deftly describes and analyzes the wide range of attitudes toward, engagements with, and meanings of Buddhism and Buddhist practice in contemporary northern Vietnam. It is a model anthropological study of religion, especially in its approach to gender, and will be of value to all scholars who seek a deeper understanding of religion as a lived human experience.” —Shaun Kingsley Malarney, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
July 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3598-9 / $49.00 (CLOTH)