From jewellery to meditation pillows to tourist retreats, religious traditions – especially those of the East – are being commodified as never before. Imitated and rebranded as ‘new age’ or ‘spiritual’, they are marketed to secular Westerners as an answer to suffering in the modern world, the ‘mystical’ and ‘exotic’ East promising a path to enlightenment and inner peace.
In Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi, Sophia Rose Arjana examines the appropriation and sale of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in the West today, the role of mysticism and Orientalism in the religious marketplace, and how the commodification of religion impacts people’s lives.
‘A wide-ranging overview of the ongoing power and cultural significance of long-standing Western Orientalist tropes about “the Mystic East”. This is an important work for anyone working on Asian traditions and their contemporary appropriation, transformation and commodification.’
– Richard King, Professor of Buddhist and Asian Studies, University of Kent
‘A fascinating and wholly engrossing exploration of how “mysticism”, as we know it in the West, circulates as a modern-day product of colonial structures of power.’
– Sylvia Chan-Malik, Associate Professor, Departments of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
‘Both scholarly and readable, Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi deepens our understanding of the way the West appropriates Eastern religion.’
– Jeffrey H. Mahan, Ralph E. and Norma E. Peck Professor of Religion & Public Communication, Iliff School of Theology