Gender and Ideology in Japanese Religious Life Project

Faculty Member: Lori Meeks

This project explores historical changes in Buddhist discourse on gender, focusing on late medieval and early modern Japan. It aims, in particular, to explain the disjuncture between discussions of women’s salvation in popular literature dating to late medieval and early modern Japan (early fifteenth ‐ mid‐nineteenth centuries) and those found in popular literature predating the late fourteenth century. This project will examine the socio‐cultural processes that led priests and laypeople to accept and promote particular views of gender at particular historical moments. It will also explore how and to what degree continental texts and practices came to influence Japanese ideas about gender roles, salvation, and women’s bodies.  Another aspect of this project considers women’s contributions to religious practices, communities, and discourses outside the domain of Buddhist officialdom, This project aims to generate a series of publications that will highlight the gendered aspects of Japanese religious life.