Adeana McNicholls headshot

Join us for a public lecture by Adeana McNicholl: The “Black Buddhism Plan”: Buddhism, Race, and Surveillance in the Early Twentieth Century

Monday, January 31, 4:30pm, Swift Hall Common Room (1st floor)

This talk traces the life and memory of Sufi Abdul Hamid to illustrate the generative possibilities of creating new histories of American Buddhism that center Black Americans and race. Sufi Abdul Hamid’s life and memory lie at the intersection of the racialization of Buddhism and the deployment of US intelligence against new Black religio-racial movements in the early twentieth century. This talk will first trace how Hamid innovatively constructed his own religio-racial identity within the United States, and the role that Buddhism played for Hamid’s own thinking. It then turns to how others constructed his memory after his death in 1938. By examining the publication of a conspiracy theory called the “Black Buddhism Plan,” this talk illustrates the importance situating Buddhism within the history of state surveillance of religio-racial Others in the United States.

Adeana McNicholl is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses both on Buddhism in South Asia and in the United States.