Religion and National Identity Formation: Japanese- American Buddhism in Prewar Hawaii and California
Director of the Center for Japanese Studies, U.C. Berkeley
ICC Visiting Scholar
December 7 (Tue), 2010
Room 301, 3F, Building 10
Sophia University Yotsuya Campus
No registration required
Japanese-American Buddhism from the late 19th century up to world war two was situated between two empires: Japan and America. In both Japan and American projects of national identity formation, religion played a central role in defining self and other. In this talk, we will focus on two controversies that helped define the limits of "Americanization", assimilation, and notions of religious freedom -- the role of Buddhism in labor struggles in Hawaii from 1900-20 and in the Japanese language school lawsuit that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1927. Questions of whether America is essentially a Christian nation or a religiously plural nation still reverberate today with the Florida Koran burning incident or the furor over the mosque building near the former World Trade Center in New York. This talk aims to look at the role of religion in national identity formation and during times of war with a look at Japanese-American Buddhism as a point of reference for more recent discussions.
Duncan Williams is the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley. In 2011, he will be Professor of Religion and Director of the School of Religion at the University of Southern California. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is the author of The Other Side of Zen (Princeton University Press, 2005) and co-editor of five books and translator of four books including Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard University Press, 1997), American Buddhism (Curzon/Routledge, 1998), and Issei Buddhism in the Americas (University of Illinois Press, 2010). He is also the director of the Mugen Project, an online bibliographic database of Buddhism.
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