Buddhism and Cultural Studies: A Profession of Faith stages a dialogue between Buddhism and poststructuralist-inspired cultural theory, setting the exchange against the backdrop of current academic and popular debates about religion, secularism, and the implications of individualistic, capitalist-driven interest in spirituality in the contemporary world. The book explores the reciprocity between Buddhist, Derridean, and Foucauldian understandings of subjectivity and ontological contingency, to theorise the ethico-political potentials of the practice of insight meditation. By performing its analyses as a coterminous development of ‘Buddhist critical-constructive reflection’ and ‘spiritually-engaged cultural studies’, the book argues for the importance of intellectual hospitality and good faith in facilitating reciprocal learning rather than epistemic or ideological one-upmanship between divergent systems of understanding, especially between the Western intellectual tradition and its Others.
Buddhism and Cultural Studies: A Profession of Faith is narrated from the perspective of a postcolonial ‘Western Buddhist’ convert who, despite growing up in Singapore where Buddhism was a part of his disaporic ‘Chinese’ ancestral heritage, only embraced Buddhism when he migrated to Australia and discovered Western translations of Buddhist teachings along with a passion for academia. Through an autoethnography of the author’s Buddhist-inspired pursuit of an academic profession, the book proposes a generalised, non-doctrinal understanding of faith that is pertinent to ‘believers’ and ‘nonbelievers’ alike, inviting the academic reader in particular to consider the (unacknowledged) role of faith in supporting the scholarly pursuit. Striking a careful balance between critical and self-reflexive inquiry, the book performs in all senses of the word, a profession of faith.
Palgrave has confirmed that my new book is due to be published by 24 June 2016. You may read the the conclusion of the book here.
My next book has the working title of Buddhist Cultural Theory: The Critique of Mindfulness and The Mindfulness of Critique (Bloomsbury). The book will explore new intersections between Engaged Buddhist praxis and critical cultural theory. It will draw selected Dharma teachings into dialogue with transdisciplinary discourses on affect, new materialisms, political ecology, posthumanism, and contemplative approaches to learning, inquiry, and activism. The book will develop theoretical and methodological frameworks for the cultivation of ethically, socially, and ecologically responsive approaches to mindfulness practice.