Little Buddha and Gandhi Go to School

An Examination of the Use of Popular Film in Four Religious Education Classes


  • Barbara Kameniar University of Melbourne



Religious Education, Popular Film, Little Buddha, Gandhi


In this paper, I analyse two different feature films used by four religious education teachers when they taught a unit of work on Buddhism. I engage elements of postcolonial theory to make visible racialised and gendered elements of each of the films that may not be immediately apparent to the viewer. I describe the different approaches each of the teachers took up when they utilised the films during the unit, and then highlighted how the two films assisted the teachers to teach white, middle class, heterosexual and gendered Christian subjectivities whilst simultaneously not explicitly teaching Christianity. The paper concludes by suggesting that a Critically Engaging Creative Arts approach might assist teachers to better engage with popular film in the future.

Author Biography

Barbara Kameniar, University of Melbourne

Dr Barbara Kameniar is a lecturer in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.


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Gandhi (1982, dir. Richard Attenborough)

Little Buddha (1993, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)



How to Cite

Kameniar, B. (2009). Little Buddha and Gandhi Go to School: An Examination of the Use of Popular Film in Four Religious Education Classes. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 22(1), 28–41.