Buddhism in the Far North of Australia Pre-WWII: (In)visibility, Post-colonialism and Materiality

Anna Halafoff, Kim Lam, Cristina Rocha, Enqi Weng, Sue Smith

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    Buddhism was first established in Australia through flows of migrants in the mid-nineteenth century, and is currently Australia’s fourth-largest religion. Yet Buddhists have received significantly less scholarly attention than Christians, Jews and Muslims in Australia. Previous research conducted on Buddhism in Australia has also largely centered on the southern states, and on white Buddhists. This article shares findings of archival research on Buddhism in the far north of Australia, focused on Chinese, Japanese, and Sri Lankan communities working in mining, pearling, and sugar cane industries, pre-WWII. It documents the histories of exclusion, resistance and belonging experienced by Australia’s Buddhists in the far north of Australia pre-WWII, during times of colonial oppression and Japanese internment. In so doing, this article challenges dominant narratives of a white Christian Australia, and also of white Buddhism in Australia, by rendering Asian communities in scholarship on religion in Australia more visible.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-128
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Global Buddhism
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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