Youth Buddhism: The Centrality of “Youth” in Modern Buddhism

Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg


Throughout this article, I propose the term “Youth Buddhism” in order to bring out an underdeveloped field of study—of Buddhism and youth—and to emphasize the instrumental role that youth play as both an imagined problem for religions as well as the central protagonists for Buddhist revitalization projects. Taking the case of Buddhism in Ladakh, India, social and religious leaders often proclaim their concern over the perceived lack of interest in Buddhism among youth. However, in taking a closer look at Ladakhi Buddhist youth engagement, a number of important developments appear. Examining Buddhist “youth,” both the persons who self-identify as youth and the social category of “youth,” I argue, becomes a particularly fruitful analytical optic through which to analyze the various regional, national, and global dynamics which current developments in Buddhism are contingent upon.


contemporary Buddhism; modern Buddhism; Buddhist youth; Ladakh; Indian Buddhism

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Copyright (c) 2021 Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg

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