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Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2016) 'From Japanese Buddhist Sect to Global Citizenship: Soka Gakkai Past and Future.' In: Gallagher, Eugene, (ed.), Visioning New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future. London: Ashgate. (INFORM series)

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The classification of something called ‘religion’ in Japan has been a politically charged, boundary-drawing project that was central to the formation of the modern nation-state. The significance of these conceptual formations and the politics behind them has in recent years even undermined the very viability of “religion” as a subject of study in itself (see Isomae 2012; Josephson 2012). I briefly consider some of these discursive formations to explore how a non-Western society adopted and appropriated ‘religion’ and its profane sister ‘new religion’ as concepts to consolidate state legitimacy. Soka Gakkai1 has too readily been seen as a “new religion”. But this concept in itself does not offer much explanation as to why Soka Gakkai has become the most successful Buddhist movement in Japan, and possibly worldwide. Soka Gakkai began in 1930 as a small educational society with a strong intellectual and doctrinal pull that distinguished it from other “new religions” in Japan. Despite its sometimes controversial status, today Soka Gakkai consists of grassroots networks that extend into 192 countries and territories, albeit the majority of members, some 10 million, are still in Japan. This chapter explores a well-organised movement whose significance on a wider scale has shown itself to exist in a long-term commitment to fostering a culture of human rights and sense of global citizenship among its membership.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISBN: 9781032179360
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2014 08:33

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