In 2006, Paul D. Numrich (2008) posed the question of whether contemporary scholarship on North American Buddhism constituted a distinct "field of study" and identified several factors that defined both academic disciplines and fields. This paper applies Numrich's criteria to the study of Buddhism in Australia, in its multiple and diverse forms, suggesting that it is an emerging field of study. While there has been an increase in historical, anthropological, and sociological scholarship in recent years, a comprehensive analysis of Buddhism in Australia, and particularly its impact on Australian life and culture, is yet to be conducted. This paper argues that such a study is both timely and necessary, given that Buddhism is the second largest religion in Australia, and we appear to be entering an "Asian century."
Authors: Anna Halafoff, Deakin University; Ruth Fitzpatrick, University of Western Sydney; Kim Lam, Monash University.