A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows

Jolyon Thomas

Religious Studies Program

Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom: The Crucial Role of an East Asian Nation in the Construction of a Universal "Human Right"

Jolyon Baraka Thomas has degrees in Religion from Princeton University, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Grinnell College. At UW-Madison he will be working on his second book manuscript, tentatively titled Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom: The Crucial Role of an East Asian Nation in the Construction of a Universal "Human Right." The book examines the history of religious liberty in modern Japan, focusing in particular on the ways that the post-WWII Allied Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) created influential historiographic narratives about Japan's relationship with religious freedom. The project also shows that the Occupation itself fostered new, universalist understandings of religious liberty that were subsequently exported for global use.

Jolyon's recent and forthcoming publications include articles, book chapters, and book reviews on the category of religion in modern Japan, religions policy during the Allied Occupation of Japan, and the political ramifications of religious studies. Jolyon also regularly publishes on media and religion in contemporary Japan. His 2012 book Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan is available from University of Hawai‘i Press.

Courses

Fall 2014: Love and Sex in Buddhism

Spring 2015: The Religion of Anime