By Judith Snodgrass

ISBN-10: 0807827851

ISBN-13: 9780807827857

ISBN-10: 0807854581

ISBN-13: 9780807854587

Snodgrass demanding situations the foremost view that Asian cultures are objectified and understood strictly via Western principles. in response to a close exam of displays via eastern Buddhists on the international Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Snodgrass argues that Buddhists themselves helped reformulate Buddhism right into a sleek international faith.

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Additional info for Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition

Sample text

O’Sullivan’s image of ‘‘establish[ing] on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the worship of the Most High. . ’’≤∏ Here the temple, the republican ideal, stands at the end of the Atlantic journey, claiming the Western Hemisphere as its domain. ’’≤π Pacific expansion was not a new idea. The Christian Gospel had been carried to Hawaii in 1820, accompanied by American secular institutions, schools, and the press. An American-inspired constitution was bestowed upon the islands in 1887. In January 1893, amid rhetoric of bringing ‘‘stability, honesty and vigor to government’’ accompanied by economic incentives such as privileged access to a subsidized sugar market, America was involved in the deposition of Queen Liliuokalani.

American rivalry with Europe might have been satisfied by an exhibition of material progress, but this material progress was itself subsidiary to and dependent on America’s distinctive society and its resulting institutions. ‘‘The freest land must in the end create the most perfect machinery. . The American railroad is a product of the Constitution of the United States,’’∞ and the Constitution, in turn, derived from the ideals of freedom, equality, and self-determination of Protestant Christianity brought to the New World by the early colonists.

These were Christo-centric assumptions of the essentially theistic nature and function of religion into which Buddhism could not easily be accommodated. The aspects of Buddhism that could be discussed at the Parliament were restricted by this American and Christian agenda of the program. The representation of Japanese Buddhism was constrained by the role assigned to it in a discourse generated by the religious debates and intellectual assumptions of nineteenth-century America. The relations of power mapped in the previous chapter—New World challenge to Europe; the tension between the dominant West and the Orient; dominant white America’s attempt to preserve the status quo against the challenge from social changes in the late nineteenth century; Japan’s bid to disassociate itself from other Asian nations and establish itself in the international arena— also traversed the congress on religions.

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Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition by Judith Snodgrass


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