Chinese Buddhist Transformations in Malaysia: Navigating Nation Building and Transethnic Dynamics

Regional Social and Cultural Studies Program

About the Webinar

This article examines the evolution of Chinese Buddhism in Malaysia in the context of nation-building. Chinese Buddhist communities in Malaysia actively promote their cultural and social values ​​for a multicultural nation. Interfaith and interfaith efforts by various Buddhist groups serve as strategic responses to Malaysia’s ethnic landscape, rooted in deep spiritual beliefs. Drawing on Wang Kungwu’s three types of Chinese orientations, this study shows that the transformation of Buddhism was an expression of local nationalism, drawing inspiration and validation from religious doctrines. Buddhist communities actively challenge racism, religious dogma and social bias, using their faith to create divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims. It remains uncertain how proactively Chinese Buddhists can address some racialization dynamics in Malaysian society.

About the Speaker

Dr. Don Lee Oi He is currently a researcher at the Penang Institute and a columnist for Sinzew Daily, the Malaysian national newspaper. He holds a PhD from the National University of Singapore and has published several academic journal articles. He also published two books: Dynamics of Cyberspace during the Reform Movement in Malaysia (Malaysia National University Press, 2010) and Buddhist Revival and Chinese Religions in Malaysia (Amsterdam University Press, 2020).


The entire webinar will be delivered online. You can join the webinar on the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone or tablet) with an internet connection.

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