Friday, February 23, 2007

February 27-28: Ian Reader on "Dangerous Religion" in Japan

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
A Special Opportunity Just for Majors!
Religious Studies majors are welcome to join RELGST 0525: Religion and Culture in East Asia for a special talk by:
Ian Reader, Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of the Japan Centre, Manchester University (UK)
Aum: A Case Study in Religious Violence
1:00-2:15 PM, 426 Benedum
See also below.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Ian Reader, Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of the Japan Centre, Manchester University (UK)
Dangerous Religion? Cultural Constructions of Religion in Post-Aum Japan and their Wider Implications
4:00 PM, 4127 Sennott
Reception to follow
This talk examines social/cultural and other responses to the Aum Affair in Japan, especially the rise of the anti-cult movement and the construction of concepts of ‘dangerous religion’ and of ‘cults’ as somehow separate from ‘true religion,’ and looks at the forces at work in this ongoing process. It examines the arguments that are being used in attempts to deal with the problematic tensions that have arisen in post-Aum Japan, between the constitutionally enshrined notion of freedom of religious worship and belief and questions of public safety, which have led many to advocate either control of religion or re-categorization of some forms of religion as ‘cults’ or socially deviant movements that need to be controlled by the state. This talk also briefly tries to put the Japanese case into wider, global context by looking at how the Japanese case may be impacting on discussions about religion and its control elsewhere, and at what the implications of contemporary global discussions about religion and terror might hold for public understandings of ‘religion.’
Dr. Reader is among the foremost Western authorities working on religious violence and on pilgrimage in contemporary Japan. His many publications include Making Pilgrimages: Meaning and Practice in Shikoku (2005), Religious Violence in Contemporary Japan: The Case of Aum Shinrikyō (2000), Practically Religious: Worldly Benefits and the Common Religion of Japan [coauthored] (1998), A Poisonous Cocktail? Aum Shinrikyō’s Path to Violence (1996), and Religion in Contemporary Japan (1991).
Cosponsored by the Asian Studies Center and Japan Council of University Center for International Studies. Funding provided by the Japan Iron and Steel Federation and Mitsubishi Endowments and the Office of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

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