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The University of North Carolina Press
Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition / Edition 1

Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition / Edition 1

by Judith Snodgrass
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Japanese Buddhism was introduced to a wide Western audience when a delegation of Buddhist priests attended the World's Parliament of Religions, part of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In describing and analyzing this event, Judith Snodgrass challenges the predominant view of Orientalism as a one-way process by which Asian cultures are understood strictly through Western ideas. Restoring agency to the Buddhists themselves, she shows how they helped reformulate Buddhism as a modern world religion with specific appeal to the West while simultaneously reclaiming authority for the tradition within a rapidly changing Japan.

Snodgrass explains how the Buddhism presented in Chicago was shaped by the institutional, social, and political imperatives of the Meiji Buddhist revival movement in Japan and was further determined by the Parliament itself, which, despite its rhetoric of fostering universal brotherhood and international goodwill, was thoroughly permeated with confidence in the superiority of American Protestantism. Additionally, in the context of Japan's intensive diplomatic campaign to renegotiate its treaties with Western nations, the nature of Japanese religion was not simply a religious issue, Snodgrass argues, but an integral part of Japan's bid for acceptance by the international community.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807854587
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 08/25/2003
Edition description: 1
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Judith Snodgrass is senior lecturer in Japanese history at the University of Western Sydney in Australia. She also edits the journal Japanese Studies.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Snodgrass's story is fascinating on several levels: as a detailed analysis of the Exposition and the Parliament of Religions; as a dissection of the veins and arteries of Japanese thought at the time; and as a point of reference for what's happening inside religions today. . . . Essential reading.—Australian Book Review

A cogent presentention. . . . An important contribution to the history of the history of religions and should be of interest to a broad readership.—History of Religions

Well written and intellectually engaging, this book deals with a critical moment for understanding how various modernizing Asian Buddhists reformulated the tradition in response to the West. A good book that will be welcomed by a wide variety of scholars and students.—Peter N. Gregory, Smith College

The author's erudition consistently impresses.—Historian

[Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition] is a book that contributes significantly to our understanding of a crucial chapter in modern religious and cultural history.—Religion and the Arts

A fascinating account of this chapter of religious history.—Journal of the Buddhist Society of London

Bring[s] together an enormous amount of information into a comprehensive whole.—Journal of Religion

Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West . . . provides an intriguing back story not only for the World's Parliament of Religions but also for contemporary Buddhism.—Tricycle

A deep, probing, and provocative examination of all that went into shaping one of the most important Asian delegations at the World Parliament of Religions and a significant look at forces that shaped the East-West encounter and the Japan-America connection over the course of the modern period.—Richard Seager, Hamilton College

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