Research on early western Buddhists

This is inevitably only a partial selection of a complex field, and will be added to over time.


Journal of Global Buddhism (open-access)

Contemporary Buddhism


Materialien zum Neobuddhismus (in German) – very extensive resources on this site, look for “Neobuddhismus”


Brian Bocking, Phibul Choompolpaisal, Laurence Cox and Alicia Turner (eds.), A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer western Buddhists and Asian networks 1860-1960. Abingdon: Routledge, August 2014.

Thomas Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912:  Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1992;  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Elizabeth Harris, Ananda Metteyya: the first British emissary of Buddhism. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1998.

Bhikkhu Nyanatusita and Hellmuth Hecker, The life of Nanatiloka Thera: the biography of a western Buddhist pioneer. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 2008.

Laurence Cox, Buddhism and Ireland: from the Celts to the counter-culture and beyond. Sheffield: Equinox, July 2013.

Other publications

Laurence Cox, “Researching transnational activist lives: Irish Buddhists and the British Empire“, Interface 8(2), 2016: 171-183.

Laurence Cox, “European Buddhist Traditions”. 332 – 345 in Michael Jerryson (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Laurence Cox and Mihirini Sirisena, “Early western lay Buddhists in colonial Asia: John Bowles Daly and the Buddhist Theosophical Society of Ceylon”, Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions 3: 108 – 139, 2016.

Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking, “A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer European Buddhists and globalising Asian networks 1860 – 1960″. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 1 – 16. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Brian Bocking, “Flagging up Buddhism: Charles Pfoundes (Omoie Tetzunostzuke) among the International Congresses and Expositions, 1893-1905″. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 17 – 37. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Tilman Frasch, “Buddhist councils in a time of transition: globalism, modernity and the preservation of textual traditions”. Contemporary Buddhism 14(1), 2013: 38 – 51. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Yoshinaga Shin’ichi, “Three boys on a great vehicle: ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ and a trans-national network”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 52 – 65. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Alicia Turner, “The Bible, the bottle and the knife: religion as a mode of resisting colonialism for U Dhammaloka”. Contemporary Buddhism 14(1), 2013: 66 – 77. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Elizabeth Harris, “Ananda Metteyya: controversial networker, passionate critic”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 78 – 93. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Phibul Choompolpaisal, “Tai-Burmese-Lao Buddhisms in the ‘modernizing’ of Ban Thawai (Bangkok): the dynamic interaction between ethnic minority religion and British-Siamese centralization in the late nineteenth / early twentieth centuries“. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 94-115. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Laurence Cox, “Rethinking early western Buddhism: beachcombers, ‘going native’ and dissident Orientalism”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 116 – 133. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Douglas Ober, “‘Like embers hidden in ashes, or jewels encrusted in stone’: Rāhul Sāāyan, Dharmānand KosambĪ and Buddhist activity in colonial India”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 134-148. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Andrew Skilton,”Elective affinities: the reconstruction of a forgotten episode in the shared history of Thai and British Buddhism – Kapilavaddho and Wat Paknam”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 149 – 168. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Philip Deslippe, “Brooklyn bhikkhu: how Salvatore Cioffi became the Venerable Lokanatha”. Contemporary Buddhism 14 (1), 2013: 169 – 186. (Now also available in book form from Routledge).

Public presentations

Laurence Cox, “Inventing Buddhist modernism: repertoires in transition”. Asian Buddhism: plural colonialisms and plural modernities conference, Kyoto University / Ryukoku University, December 2014.

Brian Bocking, “Charles Pfoundes and Annie Besant: a clash of Irish esoteric Buddhisms in Victorian London”. Working Group on Intercultural Performance, Adaptation and Translation / Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, UCC, February 2014.

Brian Bocking, “The forgotten first London Buddhist mission, 1889 – 1892: Charles JW Pfoundes and the Kaigai Senkyôkai”. Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, SOAS, December 2013; other details here.

Brian Bocking and Laurence Cox, “Rewriting the history of UK Buddhism: the first London Buddhist Mission of 1890”. 2nd conference of ISASR (Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions), UCD, May 2013.

Mihirini Sirisena and Laurence Cox, “What Buddhism? Whose Buddhism? John Bowles Daly, Mahinda College and the Buddhist Theosophical Society”. 2nd conference of ISASR (Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions), UCD, May 2013.

Brian Bocking, “A difficult character to remember? The Irish Japanologist Charles J. W. Pfoundes (1840-1907) in Meiji Japan”.  Ireland-Japan Association Public Lecture, Royal Hibernia Institute, Dublin, October 2012.

Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, “Excavating the Roles of Women in Buddhist Modernity: Negotiating Gender Archive and Visibility in the Travels of Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969) and Pelling Ani Wangdzin (188?-192?)” Conference on “Southeast Asia as a crossroads for Buddhist exchange”, UCC, September 2012.

Brian Bocking “The First Irish Buddhist Missionary? Charles Pfoundes in Meiji Japan.” 1st Conference of ISASR (Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions), UCC, May 2012.

Brian Bocking, “Pioneer Irish Buddhists in Meiji Japan: Condor Pfoundes and U Dhammaloka”. Launch of the Irish Institute for Japanese Studies, UCC, September 2011.

Elizabeth Harris, “Response: Ananda Metteyya and U Dhammaloka”. Dhammaloka Day conference, UCC, February 2011.


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