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How do contemporary Westerners and Tibetans understand not only what it means to be 'Buddhist', but what it means to be hailed as one from 'the West' or from 'Tibet'? This anthropological study examines the encounter between Western travellers and Tibetan exiles in Bodhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal and analyses the importance of Buddhism in discussions of political, cultural and religious identity. Based on extensive field research in Nepal, Buddhism Observed questions traditional assumptions about Buddhism and examines the rarely considered phenomenon of Western conversions to a non-Western religion. Scholars of Anthropology, Religion and Cultural Studies will find here a refreshing insight into how to approach 'other' societies, religions and cultures.