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Grant number: FT-229169-15

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Asuka Sango
Carleton College (Northfield, MN 55057-4044)

Buddhist Debate in Medieval Japan

Summer research and writing on Eastern Asian History, and History of Religion.

This project illuminates a largely overlooked dimension of the history of medieval Japan: the role played by Buddhist debate in shaping the intellectual, religious, and cultural contours of Japan from the 11th to 16th centuries. Buddhist debate has received considerable attention among scholars of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Less known is its vitality in medieval Japan. Participating in debates on issues of Buddhist doctrine was both indispensable to the education of monks and an official requirement for promotion. Modern scholars tend to dismiss Buddhist debate as a dull show of pedantry, or a mere tool of self-aggrandizement. However, debate skills that monks developed were not only a means of social advancement, but also a dynamic mode of internalizing and producing doctrinal knowledge and contesting its established interpretation. Examining their views and practice of debate then is a key to understanding both the intellectual and social dimensions of medieval Japanese Buddhism.

Project fields:
East Asian History; History of Religion; Nonwestern Religion

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2015 – 9/30/2015