May 9, 2019
Front cover of American Dharma

Dr. Ann Gleig, associate professor at UCF, has had her first book published by Yale University Press. Titled American Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Modernity, Gleig’s book is a culmination of her research since receiving her dissertation in 2010. Speaking with Justin Whitaker of Buddhistdoor Global about how the book came to be, Gleig commented “I decided to do a couple of new ethnographic projects: one on the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) in Oakland, California, and one on Buddhist Geeks, an online digital project. On the surface, EBMC and Buddhist Geeks are two very different types of American Buddhist communities, but in my analysis of both I concluded that they demonstrated traits associated more with the postcolonial and postmodern than the modern historical period. Franz Metcalf, an editor at the Journal of Global Buddhism (JGB), who was one of the reviewers of the Buddhist Geeks article, encouraged me to extend my postmodern thesis into a book-length project. And the result was American Dharma!”

American Dharma examines the evolution of American Buddhism, including how Buddhism in America has adopted a different lineage than traditional Asian Buddhism. Gleig makes a case that this evolution can be seen easily through shifts influenced from modernity and postmodernity, showing how American Buddhism groups have an inclination to adopting secular, democratic, and liberal interpretations. Gleig further argues that the shifts are also influenced by recent social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.

Writing about a phenomena happening and evolving in real-time, Gleig is interested to see how the future of American Buddhism developments correlate or contest her observations.

Other interviews with Gleig about her work include Buddhism’s Postmodern Age from Tricycle; How to Hack an Academic Book by author Gesshin Claire Greenwood on Medium; and Enlightenments beyond the Enlightenment on the blog Vividness.