The Jivaka Project


The Jivaka Project ( is a collaborative project with filmmaker and historian Lan A. Li. This is a multimedia ethnography exploring the role of Buddhist institutions, practices, and cultural orientations in the American healthcare landscape. At present, the website presents searchable demographic, geographic, cultural, and sectarian information, from about 50 different Buddhist temples, meditation centers, and community centers in the Philadelphia area. The website encompasses a series of professionally produced documentary films in addition to photos, audio, and other data captured by student researchers. Covering various intersections between Buddhism and health, these are intended for use in the classroom and are accompanied by background information and suggestions for further readings. 

We learn from the films and other project materials that Buddhism plays an important — though often invisible — role in the healthcare landscape of the city. These facets of health and healing have rarely been mentioned in Buddhist studies scholarship, but are regular parts of daily life for Philadelphia’s communities of Asian immigrants and refugees. Themes covered in the films and on the website include meditation, healing rituals, food, traditional medicine, the social dimensions of health, and intersections with mainstream healthcare institutions.

The project website also includes a pedagogy section with sample syllabus, class handouts, multilingual consent forms, information on IRB, and other materials to assist faculty in becoming a project contributor.


  • 2019, “Varieties of Buddhist Healing in Multiethnic Philadelphia,” Religions 10.48; doi:10.3390/rel10010048. [Open Access]
  • 2019, “Intersections between Buddhism, Health, and Diversity in an American City” []
  • 2019, “Survey of Buddhist Healing Practices in Philadelphia Publicly Available” []
  • 2019, “The Jivaka Project: Engaged pedagogy for a diverse student body” []