Apocalypse Now? Hoa Hao Buddhism Emerging from the Shadows of War


  • Philip Taylor

    1. Anthropology, The University of Western Australia
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      Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia. The research in this article was conducted during several trips to Vietnam between 1992 and 2000 in part funded by the Australian National University and the University of Western Australia.


Hoa Hao Buddhism, founded in the late French colonial era is, like the other religions of ethnic Vietnamese in the Mekong delta, an eclectic and creative approach to imagining existence in this newly settled region. This paper investigates the context in which this faith evolved and explores its main characteristics. These include its settler colonialist worldview, synthesis of diverse cultural currents, universalist outlook and construction of a moral community. It concludes by exploring the religion's contemporary relevance, uneasy relationship with the state and the perceived challenges faced as the integration of the delta into broader economic and cultural structures continues.