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CJS Noon Lecture ~ "Journeys to the West: Buddhism and the Japanese World Map"

Thursday, February 2, 2012
5:00 AM
Room 1636, School of Social Work Building, 1080 South University, Ann Arbor

D. Max Moerman is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College and Associate Director of the Columbia Center for Japanese Religions. He is the author of "Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan" (Harvard, 2005).
This presentation analyzes the earliest Japanese map of the world, painted by a fourteenth-century monk and based on fifth-century Indian and seventh-century Chinese Buddhist texts. Preserved within temples, the map was copied and printed well into the nineteenth century. The popularity and reproduction of such an ahistorical geography long after European-style world maps were in common use forces us to recognize the persistent role of the Buddhist imaginary in early modern debates over geography, cosmology, and cultural identity. This paper explores the map's genealogy to examine the multiple and contested trajectories of Japan’s journeys to the west.