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Grant number like: FT-57117-09

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Jacqueline Stone
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ 08540-5228)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 8/31/2009

Japan in the Medieval Religious Imagination: From Marginal Realm to World Center

This project investigates the interplay of religious and national identity formation in premodern Japan, drawing on Buddhist cosmological representations from the 12th-15th centuries. Scholar-monks alternately depicted Japan as a marginal land in a degenerate age and as a divinely protected world center. Though linked only tenuously to geopolitical realities, such representations fostered a nascent awareness of Japan, its place in history, and its relation to other countries. Buddhist notions of Japan were also enlisted to promote the teachings of rival schools and to negotiate relations between Buddhism as a pan-Asian tradition and local deity cults. To date, studies of how people come to identify with particular regions have focused on the rise of modern nation-states and concentrated on such factors as shared ethnicity and language or resistance to colonialism. This study will broaden that question by extending it to a premodern context and by focusing on religion.