2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Feminist Buddhist Studies: A Brief Review of Recent English Works

Yuchen Li

Department of East Asian Studies, Cornell University

This paper surveys recent publications on the relationship between Buddhism and women. Influenced by feminism, this growing field may be called “feminist Buddhist studies.” Exploring the religious experience of Buddhist women via interdisciplinary research characterizes these recent published works which focus on the following main areas: 1. the image of women in Buddhism; 2. the history of Buddhist nuns; 3. the religious world of Buddhist women; and 4. feminism and Buddhism. Many researchers are themselves Buddhist practitioners who bring their own religious experience into this field rendering the experience of the religious subject the main focus of analysis. This distinct trend differentiates feminist studies of Buddhism from other Buddhist studies which focus on the study of Buddhist texts or the social function of Buddhism. Although it is too early to evaluate the impact of feminist studies of Buddhism, it nonetheless represents a worldwide effort to elevate the status of women in Buddhism.


Key Words: feminism, Buddhism, religious experience, Buddhist nuns