5th Tanaka Symposium: Reconfiguring the Concept of Religion in Modern Japan

6 June 2023 (Tuesday), 9:00–18:00

Harold Lee Room, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

This symposium explores how creative religious knowledge and practices changed and challenged the concept of religion in Japan between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Japanese responses to religion cannot be reduced to the product of Westernisation and its nativist counter-discourses. More diverse responses emerged from the context of competing Christianities, Buddhisms, and more. Indeed, some Japanese intellectuals have even used Christianity to critique Christianity. Speakers will examine how different Christian scholars reconfigured Christianity, or even God, in modern Japan and the wider world, and will also scrutinise innovative responses by Buddhists, Confucianists, and practitioners of Ainu religious beliefs. Religion was one of the most fundamental problems in relation to the goal and/or question of ‘civilisation’. Particular attention will be given to the ways in which they negated undesirable constructs in modern religion tied to civilisation discourses and reconstructed them. While some of these religions supported imperialist discourse, they were not always reducible to the Christianity of the West and its equivalence that gave legitimacy to white supremacy and male dominance.

Scholars will give presentations on their research concerning various reconfigurations of religions. We invite participants to engage in active discussion. Our hope is that this event will result in the cross-pollination of ideas, resources, and methodologies.

To attend the event (in-person only), sign-up here: bit.ly/3BHIhpw

Programme can be found here: bit.ly/3OqxeZo