[Buddha-l] More on Vietnamese Buddhism

Franz Metcalf franz at mind2mind.net
Thu Dec 9 11:52:12 MST 2010

Many thanks to Professors Hori and Soucy for this current bibliography  
on Buddhism in Vietnam. I am keeping it handy for my own reading.

It is an open secret that Vietnamese Buddhism is woefully understudied  
in the academy. I recall Frank Reynolds at the University of Chicago  
encouraging us grad students to consider choosing Vietnam as our  
substantive speciality back in the late 80s and early 90s. I don't  
believe anyone there followed his advice and it continues to be a wide- 
open field. AFAIK, Cuong Nguyen is pretty much it in terms of the  
broad sweep of Vietnamese Buddhism. This is particularly ironic given  
the wonderful richness of the Buddhist tradition there (due to its  
being on the geographical border of Theravada and Mahayana) and the  
attention given to it by earlier scholars in the French school of  
Buddhology. For example, Frank loved the work of Paul Mus who was in  
Vietnam for years. But, now that I'm thinking of it, Mus, though *in*  
Vietnam, did not really study Buddhism as manifested exactly there.  
And, It seems to me, as Professor Soucy's work illustrates, that most  
of the work now being done on Buddhism in Vietnam is not Buddhology  
narrowly defined, but has a more historical, cultural, or even  
anthropological focus. All these things are great--and they're really  
more my kind of thing than straight ahead "Buddhology," but it would  
be good to have more Nguyen's out there filling in the gaps.

Again, thanks for the bibliography,

Franz Metcalf

On Dec 9, 2010, at 5:03 AM, Victor Hori, Prof. wrote:

> Buddha-L
> I passed on Bradley Clough's request for material on Vietnamese  
> Buddhism to Prof Alex Soucy of St Mary's University.
> He sent back the message attached below.
> Victor Hori
> ---
> Hi Victor
> You can pass on the following:
> There is not single text that covers Vietnamese Buddhism more  
> generally. There are, however, a few short essays that could be  used:
> - Malarney, Shaun Kingsley. 1999. "Buddhist Practices in Rural  
> Northern Viêt Nam." (In Liber Amicorum: Mélanges offerts au  
> Professeur Phan Huy Lê, ed. Phillippe Papin and John Kleinen,  
> 183-200. Hanoi: Nhà xuất bản Thanh niên.) This is a general  
> description of Buddhist practice.
> - There are three chapters on Buddhism in Vietnam in Philip  
> Taylor's, In Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post- 
> revolutionary Vietnam, (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian  
> Studies, 2007).
> - Nguyen, Cuong Tu. 1997. Zen in Medieval Vietnam: a Study and  
> Translation of the Thiền Uyển Tập Anh. (Honolulu: University of  
> Hawai'i Press, The Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and  
> Human Values.) This is the only contemporary book length treatment  
> of Vietnamese Buddhism, and is important for shedding light on the  
> fact that other English (and French) descriptions have falsely  
> described Vietnamese Buddhism as Zen. It is an historical treatment  
> that is narrow in scope, though the implications are wide. He has a  
> chapter length treatment of the same subject: 1995. "Rethinking  
> Vietnamese Buddhist History: Is The Thiền Uyển Tập Anh a  
> 'Transmission of the Lamp' Text?" in Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts,  
> ed. K.W. Taylor and John K. Whitmore, 81-115. Ithaca, New York:  
> Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University.
> - Cuong Tu Nguyen and A.W. Barber wrote a chapter on Vietnamese  
> Buddhism in North America: "Vietnamese Buddhism in North America:  
> Tradition and Acculturation," in The Faces of Buddhism in America,  
> eds. Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka, (Berkley: University  
> of California Press, 1998).
> Janet McLellan wrote a chapter on Vietnamese Buddhism in Toronto,  
> Canada in her Many Petals of the Lotus: Five Asian Buddhist  
> Communities in Toronto, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999);
> Paul Rutledge wrote about Vietnamese Buddhism in the Mid-West US. in  
> The Role of Religion in Ethnic Self-Identity: A Vietnamese  
> Community, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985). Though  
> Buddhism is cursory.
> - I have published a number of papers on Vietnamese Buddhism from an  
> anthropological perspective:
> Soucy, Alexander. 1996. "The Dynamics of Change in an Exiled Pagoda:  
> Vietnamese Buddhism in Montreal." Canberra Anthropology 19(2):29-45.
> ————. 1999. "Masculinities and Buddhist Symbolism in  
> Vietnam." In Playing the Man: New Approaches to Masculinity, ed.  
> Katherine Biber, Tom Sear and Dave Trudinger, 123-134. Sydney: Pluto  
> Press.
> ————. 2000 "The Problem With Key Informants," Anthropological  
> Forum 10(2):179-199.
> ————. 2006 "Consuming Lộc – Creating Ơn: Women,  
> Offerings and Symbolic Capital in Vietnam." Studies in Religion /  
> Sciences Religieuses 35(1):107-131.
> ————. 2007. "Nationalism, Globalism and the Re-establishment  
> of the Trúc Lâm Thiền Buddhist sect in Northern Vietnam." In  
> Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary  
> Vietnam, ed. Philip Taylor, 342-370. Singapore: Institute of  
> Southeast Asian Studies.
> ————. 2009. "Language, Orthodoxy and Performances of  
> Authority in Vietnamese Buddhism." Journal of the American Academy  
> of Religion.
> I hope this helps,
> Alec Soucy

More information about the buddha-l mailing list