Theology and Religious Studies Professor Sharon Suh's Silver Screen Buddha explores the representation of Buddhists and Buddhism in Asian and Western films. The book addresses political, gendered, and racial overtones in those representations.
"By repeatedly romanticizing the meditating monk, the diversity of Buddhism has been obscured," Suh said. "This has had troubling effects on gendered and racialized Buddhists across time and place. There are differences between a fictionalized, commodified, and exoticized Buddhism and Buddhism as it exists among lay communities."
Silver Screen Buddha brings to light expressions of the tradition that highlight laity and women, on the one hand, and Asian and Asian Americans, on the other. Suh engages in a re-visioning of Buddhism that expands the popular understanding of the tradition, moving from the dominance of meditating monks to the everyday world of raced, gendered, and embodied lay Buddhists.
Suh, Chair of the Theology and Religious Studies Department, received her PhD from Harvard University and joined the College of Arts and Sciences faculty in 2000. Her scholarship and teaching focus on Buddhism, race, public life, and gender; Asian American religions; and religion and immigration. Silver Screen Buddha is her second book.