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Buddhist Futures: Conceptions of Modernity and Temporality in Modern Japanese Buddhism

CJRC Religion, Modernity, and Science in Japan Project

This international conference will investigate how Japanese Buddhists since the Meiji period have responded and contributed to conceptions of progress and time in modernity.

The modernization of Japan in the late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries brought large transformations in the realm of religion, and arguably carried within itself religious dimensions. This conference will discuss questions concerning the relations between modernity and Buddhism in Japan, and explore not only how Buddhism adapted to modernity, but also how Buddhist thinkers envisioned modernity and the future, and actively tried to shape it. How did Buddhist thinkers reconcile modern ideas of progress and linear time with Buddhist circular conceptions of time, nationalism and universalism, reality and utopia, faith and science and technology? Faculty and graduate students from Japan, the United States, and Europe will come to the University of Southern California, bringing together perspectives from religious studies, Buddhist studies, intellectual history, and history of science and technology.


9:15 AM - Welcome and Introductions
Clinton Godart and Duncan Williams (USC) 

9:30 – 10:15
“A Record of The Future: Japanese Religion 120 Years On”
James Ketelaar (University of Chicago)

10:15 – 11:00
“Revitalizing Buddhism Inoue Enryo’s Classification of Teachings (Kyōsō-hanjaku)”
Hitoshi Kato (Osaka University)

11:00 – 11:15 - Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00
“”Not Like Heaven or the Pure Land” Modern Lotus Millennialism and the Remaking of the Nichirenist Tradition”
Jacqueline Stone (Princeton University) 

12:00 – 1:00 - Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:45
The Ideal Religion: Honda Nissho`s Religious Studies and Nichiren Buddhism”
Yulia Burenina (Osaka University)

1:45 - 2:30
“Nichiren, The Buddha, and Activism: The Buddhist Social Movement of Seno’o Girō”
Otani Eiichi (Bukkyo University) 

2:30 – 2:45 - Coffee Break

2:45 – 3:30
“Ishiwara Kanji, the East-Asia League, and Buddhist Utopianism in Showa Japan”
Clinton Godart (USC)

3:30 – 4:15
“Seeds of The Teaching: The Construction of Shinnyo-en’s Transnational Buddhist Identity in the Post-war”
Victoria Pinto (USC)

4:15 – 4:45 - Closing Discussion


Co-Sponsored by the USC East Asian Studies Center and the USC History Department