Debating Buddhist translations in cyberspace: The Buddhist online discussion forum as a discursive and epitextual space

Robert John Neather*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent research in contemporary Buddhist studies has evinced a growing interest in how Buddhism is constructed and performed in the digital space, and how such online spaces intersect with or challenge traditional spaces of Buddhist practice in the offline context. One area within this Buddhist cyberspace is that of discussion forums, which play an important part in constructing particular discourses surrounding the Western reception of Buddhism. These discursive spaces incorporate a complex mélange of doctrinal positions, textual competencies and levels of Buddhist practitioner experience. This chapter examines one discussion thread within the larger Dharma Wheel Buddhist forum, in which participants discuss translations of the Lotus Sutra. Approaching the forum as a community of practice (CoP), it analyses the ways in which authority and expertise are performed by the various discussants, and how particular projections of Buddhist identity are used to advance or contest claims as to the doctrinal or soteriological authenticity of given translations. The chapter further examines the position of the chosen translation discussion thread within the broader CoP, and concludes with reflections on the relationship between the forum as discursive space in its own right and as epitextual space that is both liminal to and shapes interpretation of the sutras it references.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnsettling Translation
    Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Honour of Theo Hermans
    EditorsMona Baker
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Electronic)9781003134633
    ISBN (Print)9780367681968, 9780367681999
    Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)
    • Social Sciences(all)


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