PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Boston, MA
November 18-21, 2017

2017 Annual Meeting Program (PDF)

Preliminary 2017 Annual Meeting Program (MS Word)

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Japanese Religions Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit is a forum for scholars of different disciplines — including textual, historical, anthropological, sociological, ritual, artistic, and other areas of study using different approaches — to present their research findings on various theories and forms of Japanese religious life in the past and in the contemporary setting, within Japan and other areas of the world.

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers sessions, individual papers and roundtables in all aspects of Japanese religious practice and thought, both historical and contemporary. To facilitate greater exchange within and beyond Japanese Religions, we prefer proposals that include explicit reflection on the study of religion more broadly. Creative formats are encouraged (film, organized discussion, pre-circulated papers/texts, workshop,etc.). We also strongly encourage you to consider balance in terms of gender, and areas of specialization and time periods, as well as balance between graduate students, junior scholars, and senior scholars. In submitting proposals, please follow the AAR guidelines carefully. First-timers are encouraged to contact the co-chairs for additional advice (Asuka Sango at; Levi McLaughlin at

Next year's Annual Meeting theme is Religion and the Most Vulnerable. Also, below are possible topics proposed by our members this year. But we welcome proposals on other topics as well.
Possible Topics (if you are interested in any of these, please contact the individuals listed above):
• Religion and disabilities in Japan: Mark Bookman,

• Tenrikyō: Adam Lyons,

• "Author meets critics" session on Helen Hardacre, Shinto: A History (Oxford Press, 2016): Barbara Ambros,

• "Funeral Buddhism": Mark Blum,

• New religions/popular religions/self-cultivation: Orion Klautau,

• Japanese religions and xenophobia: Kuni Terasawa,

• Narrative in premodern Japanese religions: Byran Lowe,; Chris Callahan,; and Sujung Kim,

• Tantra in Japan, possibly a review of Bernard Faure’s new series on the Gods of Medieval Japan: Richard Payne,

• Bioethics and Japanese religion (for a possible co-sponsored session with Bioethics and Religion, we welcome papers concerning any aspect of bioethics theory or practical issue from the perspective of Japanese religion, or one that is comparative in nature. Papers addressing the conference theme of vulnerability are especially welcomed): George Randels,

• Re-evaluating Japanese Zen as a model for Western Zen (a potential joint session with Buddhism in the West): Stuart Lachs,

• A roundtable on "liberal trends in Shintō": Jolyon Thomas,; and Fabio Rambelli,

• A panel on Trauma, Harm, and Memory in Japanese Religions (possibly co-sponsored by the Japanese Religions Unit and Religion and Violence Unit). This panel addresses ways concepts of harm, trauma, and related matters - including violence, damage, recovery, and reconstruction - have taken shape within Japanese religious milieus. We seek a broad range of disciplinary approaches. Papers may address doctrine, literature, institutional history, material religion (such as memorials) and/or ways religious dimensions of Japanese discourse, care initiatives, or other practices may illuminate categories linked to trauma. We seek work on a range of historical periods, and papers that engage broader theoretical inquiry into genealogies of "trauma," "harm," and related concepts are particularly welcome: Levi McLaughlin,

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee