Sara A. Swenson
Assistant Professor, Religion
Affiliated Faculty, Asian Societies, Cultures, and Languages
Buddhist volunteerism is on the rise across Asia. In Vietnam's fastest growing urban area, Ho Chi Minh City, religious charities fulfill humanitarian needs by subsidizing medicine, serving free meals, and fundraising for infrastructure. Many of these charities are informal and unofficial. Volunteers gather in home kitchens; give aid on street corners; and fundraise for projects over social media. Through these small-scale local efforts, Buddhist communities are shaping new futures for social service provisioning amid national policy shifts toward increasing economic privatization in Vietnam.
- B.A. University of Minnesota-Duluth
- M.A. Iliff School of Theology
- M.A.. Syracuse University
- Ph.D. Syracuse University
In Press (Forthcoming: February 2024). "The Life and Legacies of Thích Nhất Hạnh," Journal of Vietnamese Studies.
In Press (Forthcoming: December 2023). "An Uncouth Monk: The Moral Aesthetics of Buddhist Para-Charisma." Journal of Religious Ethics. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/jore.12456
In Press (Forthcoming: TBA). "The Merit of Meat: Karma as Social Fact among Buddhist Food Charities in Vietnam." Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
2022. "'Three Trees Make a Mountain': Women and Contramodern Buddhist Volunteerism in Vietnam." Asian Ethnology 81 (1–2): 3–22. Web: https://asianethnology.org/articles/2377
2020. "The Affective Politics of Karma among Buddhist Cancer Charities in Vietnam." Journal of Vietnamese Studies 15 (4): 33–62. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/vs.2020.15.4.33
2020. "Following Feeling: Karma and the Senses in Buddhist Nuns' Ordination Narratives." Journal of Global Buddhism 21: 71–86. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/4030985
2020. "Compassion without pity: Buddhist dana as charity, humanitarianism, and altruism." Religion Compass 14 (9): 1–10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12371
2021. "The Political Spirituality of Buddhist Volunteerism in Contemporary Vietnam." Political Theology 22 (1): 68–74. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1462317X.2020.1866815
2018. "Mixed-Reality: Social Media as Ethnographic Method." Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology 42 (1): 1–15.
2017. "Religious Wonderlands: Eros, Madness, and Ethics in Religious Studies through the work of Lynne Huffer." Journal of Theology & Sexuality 22 (3): 133–142. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13558358.2017.1329885