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School of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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This book brings together the insights of theories of management and marketing to give an original view of the organizational dynamics of globalizing Asian New Religious Movements (NRMs) and established religions. Seventeen authors in this collection have recast their data on individual Asian religions and social movements to focus on the way these organizations are managed in an overseas or global context, by examining the structure, organizational culture, management style, leadership principles and marketing strategies of the religious movements they had hitherto studied from the perspective of the sociology of religion, or religious studies. The book examines strategies for global proselytization and outcomes in a variety of local ethnographic contexts, thus contributing to the scholarly work on the ‘glocalization’ of religions.
This article outlines the history of Jōdo Shinshū in the UK, and asks why it has remained little known despite being one of the largest schools of Buddhism in Japan, with sizeable overseas branches in the Americas. I argue that this can be understood partly in relation to the absence of a settled Japanese migrant population in Europe, in contrast to the Americas, where Jōdo Shinshū has been sustained historically by its ethnic Japanese base, although this has changed somewhat in recent years. Another important factor is the unfamiliarity of “other power” Buddhism in Europe. With its emphasis on reliance on Amida Buddha, rather than more familiar forms of Buddhist practice like seated silent meditation, Jōdo Shinshū challenges popular conceptions of Buddhism outside Asia, and this may affect its appeal in a European context.
This chapter presents a case study of the emergence in Europe of a network of local branches of one of Japan's major Buddhist sects, Jōdo Shinshū (also known as Shin Buddhism). Jōdo Shinshū is one of the largest Buddhist sects in Japan, dating back to the 13th century. There are nearly 20,000 temples in Japan affiliated to one of the two major branches of the sect: Hongwanji-ha and Ōtani-ha (also known as Nishi Hongwanji or Honpa Hongwanji, and Higashi Honganji), both of which have their head temples in Kyoto, and are headed by descendants of Shinran, the founder of Jōdo Shinshū. There is no difference between the teachings of Nishi and Higashi Honganji – the split between the two derives from a succession dispute in the late 16th century. Hongwanji-ha is the larger of the two, and the branch with which this chapter is primarily concerned.
A form of Pure Land Buddhism, Jōdo Shinshū can be more broadly situated within Mahayana Buddhism. Its central teaching is reliance on Amida Buddha. The movement teaches that we are all embraced by Amida's primal vow, which assures rebirth in Amida's Pure Land. Rather than advocating a particular practice therefore, Jōdo Shinshū teaches that we can simply rely on, or entrust ourselves to, Amida Buddha. The aim of Jōdo Shinshū could be summarized as awakening to the power of Amida's vow, and reaching a state of entrusting oneself to Amida, commonly referred to in Japanese as shinjin.
Religious organizations have long been at the forefront of the global movement of people and ideas (Rudolph and Piscatori 1997: 3). Missionary activity has preceded or accompanied trade and political domination across continents since well before the beginning of the Christian era, alongside less organized forms of dissemination of religious belief. Even today, religion is a key element in the development and intensification of globalization (Beyer 1994: 3).
The conceptualization of this process also has its own more recent intellectual history, which has become the object of academic scrutiny. The term ‘world religion’ only appeared in European writings towards the end of the nineteenth century, and initially in association with the universalizing claims of Christianity (Masuzawa 2005: 23). By the early twentieth century, the term was taking on an expanded meaning to include a number of other religions that are now widely listed under this heading.
The category of ‘world religion’ has oftentimes been conceptualized to mean large, established world religions with universal claims to relevance, in contrast to locally based religions. This assumed division has not gone unchallenged. Masuzawa (2005: 20-21) explains that this system of classification tends to operate within an Orientalist discourse, and elides specificities of locality and power relations among the so-called world religions. Another aspect of the dominant discourse of ‘world religions’ is that global relevance is seen as a marker of authenticity and status in the religious sphere.
This chapter compares the Japanese system of reporting and investigating medical related deaths with the coronial system as practiced in England and Wales, focusing on the categorisation of deaths as ‘unnatural’ or ‘unusual’ – terms which have become increasingly problematic, ambiguous, and difficult to apply in a context of rapidly changing medical technologies. The chapter examines the legislation and institutionalised frameworks for investigation of medical related deaths in Japan and in England and Wales, and uses this material to cast light on broader issues. Some key questions here are definitions of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ and the ways in which the idea of ‘culture’ may be deployed in debates over the classification and appropriate investigation of medical related death. The chapter also considers variations in notions of personhood and agency, and understandings of the body, and the ways in which globalised systems of knowledge, in this case medical and legal understandings of the body, and of death, may be refracted and negotiated in particular local settings.