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“The Invention of ‘Religion’ in Japan” – Jason Ananda Josephson

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Religious Studies Colloquium Seriesjosephson


The Invention of “Religion” in Japan

Jason Ānanda Josephson

Associate Professor of Religion, Williams College

Thursday, October 16, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Riddick Hall, Room 321

Until the nineteenth century, Japan had no word for “religion.” But when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this Western idea. In this presentation, Josephson will reveal how Japanese leaders invented religion in Japan and trace the sweeping intellectual, legal, and cultural changes that followed. He will argue that the invention of religion in Japan was a politically charged, boundary-drawing exercise that not only extensively reclassified the inherited materials of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto to lasting effect, but also reshaped, in subtle but significant ways, our own formulation of the concept of religion today.

JJ Josephson will be drawing from his award-winning book The Invention of Religion in Japan (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/I/bo13657764.html), which he will supplement with new research.