NEW BOOK> Genealogies of Mahayana Buddhism, by Joseph Walser

Joseph Walser's picture

Dear All,

My apologies for cross-posting.

I would like to announce the publication of my new book, Genealogies of Mahayana Buddhism: Emptiness, Power and the Question of Origins by Routledge Press. The book is now available in paperback, hardcover and electronic formats (Vital Source or Kindle). You can order it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but all three versions are much cheaper on the Routledge website. (

I wrote the book hoping that it would be both accessible and useful for advanced undergraduates and graduate students to think about some of the thorny issues at the intersection of religion, Buddhist doctrines and imperial power. Those of you thinking of using it in a class, might want to use it as a follow up to Paul William’s introduction to Mahayana Buddhism (also by Routledge).

I have uploaded a table of contents online on my site (


The description on the back of the book reads as follows:


Genealogies of Mahāyāna Buddhism offers a solution to a problem that some have called the holy grail of Buddhist studies: the problem of the “origins” of Mahāyāna Buddhism. In a work that contributes both to a general theory of religion and power for religious studies as well as to the problem of the origin of a Buddhist movement, Walser argues that that it is the neglect of political and social power in the scholarly imagination of the history of Buddhism that has made the origins of Mahāyāna an intractable problem. Walser challenges commonly-held assumptions about Mahāyāna Buddhism, offering a fascinating new take on its genealogy that traces its doctrines of emptiness and mind-only from the present day back to the time before Mahāyāna was “Mahāyāna.” In situating such concepts in their political and social contexts across diverse regimes of power in Tibet, China and India, the book shows that what was at stake in the Mahāyāna championing of the doctrine of emptiness was the articulation and dissemination of court authority across the rural landscapes of Asia. This text will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students and scholars of Buddhism, religious studies, history and philosophy.


With warm regards,


Joseph Walser

Associate Professor, Department of Religion

Tufts University

Medford, MA 02155