Recent research on the life of U Dhammaloka and other early western Buddhists in Asia has interesting implications in relation to class, ethnicity and politics. Beachcomber Buddhists' highlight the wider situation of poor whites' in Asianeeded by empire but prone to defect from elite standards of behaviour designed to maintain imperial and racial power. Going native', exemplified by the European bhikkhu, highlights the difficulties faced by empire in policing these racial boundaries and the role of Asian agency in early western' Buddhism. Finally, such dissident Orientalism' has political implications, as with specifically Irish forms of solidarity with Asian anti-colonial movements. Within the limits imposed by the data, this article rethinks early western Buddhism' in Asia as a creative response to colonialism, shaped by Asian actors, marked by cross-racial solidarity and oriented to alternative possible futures beyond empire.