Ten years have passed since the publication of Jane Iwamura’s groundbreaking study, Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture. The book traces stereotypical constructions of “the spiritual East” through the figure of the “oriental monk” in popular media (magazines, film, television), and in many ways, was ahead of its time. Only recently have scholars of religion extended their perspectives to the study of Buddhism in the media and began to critically reflect on images of a racialized Asian Other within the context of alternative Western spiritualties. ISHB has invited Dr. Iwamura for a conversation to revisit the book, reflect on its impact, and discuss whether media representations of Asian religions have changed over the last decade.

Jane Iwamura Revisiting Virtual Orientalism flyer