Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Lynn Schofield Clark

Second Advisor

Andrea L. Stanton

Third Advisor

Jeffrey H. Mahan


Buddhism, Conceptual metaphor theory, Digital media, Religion, Remix studies, Remix theory


This dissertation sets out to place emergent theories of “remix” in conversation with scholarship exploring changes in the definitions and practices associated with the word “religion.” Through particular case studies, the dissertation analyzes the ways that certain contemporary creators, writers, and influencers have emerged as constructors of contemporary Buddhism. Specifically building upon the critiques of religion put forth by Jonathan Z. Smith, Russell T. McCutcheon, Brent Nongbri, Jane Iwamura, and others, I am concerned with how individuals who are not part of the religious studies scholarly community participate in the processes of constructing religion, and in this case, in constructing and contributing to changes in a specifically North American and European understanding of Buddhism. Utilizing an approach that centers on the art of metaphor, and employing a model for specifically studying cultural constructs via remix theory that I term Remix+/-, I explore the ways that a few influential leaders, including Stephen Batchelor, Osamu Tezuka, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, express and advocate for certain approaches to practices, rituals, and beliefs that are ostensibly related to historic forms of Buddhism. I argue that the ways they make their claims are best understood in relation to patterned metaphorical assumptions about religion. I further highlight the ways that these individuals are able to leverage technologies, rhetorics, and techniques in order to lay their claim – directly or indirectly – to authority, originality, and authenticity. Finally, I argue that these emergent leaders may be understood as exemplars not only of changes to Buddhism that are occurring today, but of what is likely to happen in the future with increasing speed. This speed and direction of change in “religion” is due to the affordances of digital technologies that intensify existing relations of power and amplify the views of those positioned, as these leaders are, to lay claim to certain linguistic, cultural, geographic, and technological resources as they participate in the construction of an emergent form of what they argue is Buddhism.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Seth M. Walker


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

362 pgs