Research Areas and Interests
My area of research specialization is East Asian religions, with a focus on medieval Japanese Buddhism. In broad terms, my research examines the interweaving of narratives, rituals, and images in devotional cults and the life portraits of charismatic and other practitioners. Particular interests center on the Shingon Ritsu movement (also known as the Saidaiji order) founded by Eison (1201-90) and Ninshō (1217-1303); medieval Nara Buddhism more broadly; the Manjusri cult in China and Japan; Buddhist devotional cults across Asia; and outcasts (hinin), discrimination, and social welfare in Japanese religion. An emerging area of research interest for me is the study of “lived religion” in Asia and the West in both methodological and empirical terms.
From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan. Brill’s Japanese Studies Library. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
“Visualization/Contemplation Sutras.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism. Ed. Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 (updated version).
“Materializing and Performing Prajñā: Jōkei’s Mañjuśrī Faith and the Kasagidera Restoration.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 43, no. 1 (2016): 17–54.
“Localizing Strategies: Eison and the Shōtoku Taishi Cult.” Monumenta Nipponica 69, no. 2 (2014): 153–219.
“Relics.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism. Ed. Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
“Women, Gender, and Nara Buddhism: Reflections on Lori Meeks, Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010.” Translated into Japanese by Kikuchi Hiroki. Nihon bukkyō sōgō kenkyū (Interdisciplinary Studies of Japanese Buddhism) 10 (2012): 181-98.
“Invoking the Mother of Awakening: An Investigation of Jōkei’s and Eison’s Monju kōshiki.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 38, no. 2 (2011): 263-302.
“Visualizing the Mañjuśrī Parinirvāṇa Sutra as a Contemplation Sutra.” Asia Major, 3d series, 23, part 2 (2010): 97-128.
“Emulation and Erasure: Eison, Ninshō, and the Gyōki Cult.” Eastern Buddhist, n.s., 39, no. 1 (2008): 29-60.
“Creating Bodhisattvas: Eison, Hinin, and the ‘Living Mañjuśrī.’” Monumenta Nipponica 62, no. 4 (2007): 437-79.