Fear and Belonging in Minority Buddhist Communities
Fear is fundamental to human experience. It tends to be analysed as a negative and disempowering emotion, but it can also create solidarity and be a potent force for change.
This project will investigate the productive role of fear in contemporary religious belonging through studies of two distinct minority Buddhist communities in the UK and Japan.
This project is funded by a Leverhulme Trust research project grant.
This project aims to understand the role that fear plays in religious belonging and the maintenance and renewal of religious communities.
Fear is recognised as fundamental to human experience. In social sciences and humanities research, fear tends to be analysed as a negative and disempowering emotion and as a powerful political tool. Fear can create collective ‘others’ and delineate boundaries between ‘minorities’ and ‘majorities’ and it can fuel culturally motivated violence. But it can also be a productive force, creating solidarity, enhancing group cohesion, and generating change.
Fear and Belonging in Minority Buddhist Communities, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, investigates the productive role of fear in religious belonging and ongoing community formation, particularly in contexts where a community is minoritised. Drawing on the life stories of members of two minority Buddhist communities in the UK and Japan, the project analyses how emotions shape people’s negotiation, performance, and experience of religious belonging, and the implications of this for the maintenance and renewal of religious communities.
Studying emotions – particularly ‘negative’ or difficult emotions like fear – is challenging. We are therefore combining standard interview-based life story research with other narrative and visual methods to experiment with ways of communicating understandings and experiences of fear. This includes working with an artist and the arts organisation FutureEverything to produce online digital artwork.