A ‘Critical Religion’ Approach to Japanese ‘Religion(s)’

  • Mitsutoshi Horii


Over recent decades, the concept of religion has been critically examined and deconstructed. Its usefulness as an analytical category has been questioned (Fitzgerald 2000, 2007a, 2011; McCutcheon 1997, 2001; Arnal and McCutcheon 2013). These scholars critically approach the use of the term from a postcolonial perspective, which was famously taken by Edward Said, and from a poststructuralist perspective, exemplified by Foucaultian discourse analysis. The category of religion, as the binary opposite of the secular, is a by-product of the specific historical and cultural circumstances of Western modernity (Asad 1993, 2003; Cavanaugh 2009; Nongbri 2013). When its Western imperial legacy is revealed, its cross-cultural applications attract postcolonial critiques (Fitzgerald 2007b). In many parts of the world, there was no equivalent word for ‘religion,’ but the concept of religion was often imposed upon various cultures by Western colonial powers (Chidester 1996; Josephson 2012). What these critical perspectives indicate is that ‘religion’ is a socially constructed category and that its social construction should be the subject of critical examination (Johansen 2011; Jeldtoft and Johansen 2012).


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitsutoshi Horii
    • 1
  1. 1.Shumei UniversityChibaJapan

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