Early-Career Scholar Forum

Japan and “Buddhist Heritage”: Constructing Transnational Communities of Memory?

Friday 14 July 2023 | 12:15-13:00 (JST)
Zoom access link will be provided after registration.
  • Paride STORTINI Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo
  • Sawako SHIRAHASE Director of TCJS
Event Description

Japan has a leading role in the funding of UNESCO and of projects for the preservation of cultural heritage. While recent scholarship in cultural heritage studies has focused on state action and seen the process of “heritagization” as an example of secularization, this presentation will use case studies from Japan to show the agency of Buddhist institutions that have appropriated and used discourses and practices of cultural heritage to build religious communities of lay supporters and transnational collaborations. The main case study will be the Silk Road imagery and Sino-Japanese relations developed at Yakushiji, Nara, which will be compared to Indo-Japanese international aid activities at Tsubosaka-dera, Nara prefecture, and Naritasan Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture. While cultural heritage has been often criticized for its connection with nationalist projects, this presentation will question whether the use of “Buddhist heritage” at this religious sites can foster transnational communities of memory.

About the Speaker

Paride STORTINI is a JSPS research fellow at the Religious Studies department, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo. He received a PhD in History of Religions from the University of Chicago in 2022. His research focuses on the history of Buddhism in modern and contemporary Japan. He is specifically interested in ways in which Buddhism has provided cultural repertoires to reshape Japanese identity through transnational intellectual networks, migration, and the construction of cultural heritage. His articles have appeared in Journal of Religion in Japan, Religions, Japanese Religions, and Journal of World Buddhist Cultures.