Tolerable Others: Buddhism and the Cambodian Diaspora in Italy


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Early Career Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Asian and Asian American Studies


A constellation of diasporic Theravada Buddhist temples emerged and proliferated as refugees fled the 1970- 75 civil war in Cambodia and subsequent 1975-79 Khmer Rouge genocide. As a result of this history, the contemporary network of Cambodian Buddhist temples is deeply transnational, but also tremendously localized. While the Catholic Church resettled 3,000 Southeast Asian refugees throughout Italy in 1979, many of whom were practicing Buddhists, no research has been done on this population to date. This project details the Buddhist practices of Cambodian refugees in Italy, in the pressing context of increased refugee migration and populism in Lombardy. This ethnographic study draws on classic participant observation and life history interviews with Cambodian refugees and Italians.