Curriculum Vitae

Updated June 14, 2018

CURRENT POSITION

 

July 2018 to present

Associate Professor of Asian religions, North Carolina State University, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

 

On leave academic 2018-2019 as Luce / ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs

On leave academic 2019-2020 as Toyota Visiting Professor in Japanese Studies, University of Michigan

 

PREVIOUS ACADEMIC POSITIONS

 

July 2012 to June 2018

Assistant Professor of Asian religions, North Carolina State University, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

 

September 2009 to July 2012

Assistant Professor (tenure track), Wofford College, Department of Religion. Responsible for Anthropology of Religion and Religions of East Asia.

 

August 2011 to July 2012

Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Iowa, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology (on leave from Wofford College).

 

April 2002 to March 2004

Translator / Researcher (chōsain 調査員), Institute for the Study of Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, Tokyo.

 

EDUCATION

 

Princeton University, Department of Religion

Ph.D. (Jacqueline Stone, advisor). September 2004 to August 2009. Ph.D. awarded November 2009.

 

University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology

Monbushō Scholarship Graduate Research Student in Religious Studies (Shimazono Susumu, advisor). April 2000 to March 2002.

 

University of Toronto, Department of East Asian Studies

Master of Arts (Neil McMullin, advisor). Graduated March 1998.

 

University of Toronto, Department of East Asian Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Studies. Graduated with High Distinction, June 1996.

 

Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan. Japanese Studies Exchange Program. September 1993 to August 1994.

 

Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto. Diploma in Piano Performance (A.R.C.T.). Awarded January 1992.

 

LANGUAGES

 

Modern Japanese (fluent), Classical Japanese (highly proficient), Sino-Japanese (reading ability), French (proficient), German (reading and conversational ability).

 

FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS, and AWARDS

 

Toyota Visiting Professor in Japanese Studies, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, September 2019 to May 2020. $75,000 plus research funding.

 

Luce / ACLS Fellowship in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs, July 2018 to June 2019. $58,000 plus supplementary research expenses.

 

NC State College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, 2017-2018.

 

The Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Fellowship, fall 2018 (declined). $20,000.

 

Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future Cohort III, June 2014 to June 2016. Full funding of research meetings in Washington D.C., Montana, and Japan.

 

NC State College of Humanities and Social Sciences Junior Faculty Development Award, spring 2014. $3000.

 

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Iowa, 2011-2012 academic year; appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa for spring 2012. $50,000.

 

Visiting Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, summer 2011. $20,000.

 

Association for Asian Studies Northeast Asia Council grant for short-term research travel to Japan, summer 2010. $4000.

 

Harvard University Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2009-2010 (unable to accept). $40,000.

 

Mellon / American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2009-2010 (unable to accept). $40,000.

 

Mrs. Giles Whiting Fellowship for dissertation completion, 2008 to 2009. $30,000.

 

Graduate Fellow, Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, 2008 to 2009. Participated in the workshop on Religion and Public Life under Professor Robert Wuthnow. $6000.

 

The Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Fellowship, fall 2007. $20,000.

 

Princeton University Graduate Fellowship, 2004 to 2009. $20,000 / year.

 

Princeton University East Asian Studies Prize, 2004 to 2009. $10,000 / year.

 

Presidential Scholar of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, March 2004 (declined). Five years at ~$25,000 / year.

 

Monbushō Scholarship, Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, April 2000 to March 2002. ~$25,000 / year.

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

Book

 

McLaughlin, Levi. Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of a Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press. Forthcoming December 2018.

 

Edited Book

 

Ehrhardt, George, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin, and Steven S. Reed, eds. Kōmeitō: Religion and Politics in Japan. University of California, Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies Japan Research Monographs, 2014.

 

Edited Special Issue of Journal

 

Fountain, Philip, Levi McLaughlin, Michael Feener, and Patrick Daly, eds. “Salvage and Salvation: Religion, Disaster Response, and Reconstruction in Asia.” Asian Ethnology Vol. 75 No. 1 (June 2016).

 

Refereed Articles

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Hard Lessons Learned: Tracking Changes in Media Presentations of Religion and Religious Aid Mobilization After the 1995 and 2011 Disasters in Japan.” Asian Ethnology Vol. 75 No. 1 (June 2016), 105-138.

 

Fountain, Philip and Levi McLaughlin. “Salvage and Salvation: An Introduction.” Asian Ethnology Vol. 75 No. 1 (June 2016), 1-28.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Religion in Japan Since the 2011 Tsunami.” Oxford Handbooks Online (12 April 2016): http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935420.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935420-e-29 (~11,000 words).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Komeito’s Soka Gakkai Protestors and Supporters: Religious Motivations for Political Activism in Contemporary Japan.” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 40, No. 1 (12 October 2015): http://japanfocus.org/-Levi-McLaughlin/4386/article.html (~14,000 words).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “What Have Religious Groups Done After 3.11? Part 1: A Brief Survey of Religious Mobilization after the Great East Japan Earthquake Disasters.” Religion Compass 7/8 (August 2013), 294-308.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “What Have Religious Groups Done After 3.11? Part 2: From Religious Mobilization to ‛Spiritual Care.’” Religion Compass 7/8 (August 2013), 309-325.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Did Aum Change Everything? What Sōka Gakkai Before, During, and After the Aum Shinrikyō Affair Tells Us About the Persistent ‛Otherness’ of New Religions in Japan.” Article for special issue “Japanese Religion Since 1995” of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Erica Baffelli and Ian Reader, eds. (April 2012), 51-75.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “All Research is Fieldwork: A Practical Introduction to Studying in Japan as a Foreign Researcher.” The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol. 30, Issue 1, No. 10 (26 July 2010): http://japanfocus.org/-Levi-McLaughlin/3388/article.html (~10,000 words).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Faith and Practice: Bringing Religion, Music and Beethoven to Life in Soka Gakkai.” Social Science Japan Journal 6-2 (October 2003), 161-179.

 

Refereed Book Chapters

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Electioneering as Religious Practice: A History of Sōka Gakkai’s Political Activities to 1970.” In Ehrhardt et al., eds. Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan. Berkeley: IEAS, 2014, 51-82.

 

Ehrhardt, George, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin, and Steven Reed. “Kōmeitō: The Most Understudied Party of Japanese Politics.” In Ehrhardt et al., eds. Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan. Berkeley: IEAS, 2014, 3-22.

 

Ehrhardt, George, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin, and Steven Reed. “Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan.” In  Ehrhardt et al., eds. Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan. Berkeley: IEAS, 2014, 269-275.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Sōka Gakkai in Japan.” In Prohl, Inken and John Nelson, eds. Brill Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religion. Brill: Handbooks on Contemporary Religion, 2012, 269-308.

 

Invited Publications

 

Klein, Axel, and Levi McLaughlin. “Kōmeitō 2017: New Complications.” In Pekkanen, Robert J. et al., eds. Japan Decides 2017: The Japanese General Election. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, 53-76.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Japan’s Ruling Coalition Gets Religion.” Essay in New Perspectives on Japan from the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future. Washington, D.C.: The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, 9 June 2016, 29-34: http://mansfieldfdn.org/mfdn2011/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NFF_report_2016_v2.pdf#page=31

 

Klein, Axel, Levi McLaughlin, and Steven R. Reed. “The Power of Japan’s Religious Party.” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 4 December 2014: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/the-power-japan%E2%80%99s-religious-party

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Sōka Gakkai.” Encyclopedia entry (approx. 10,000 words) for the World Religions & Spirituality Project hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University (David Bromley, ed.). Posted 1 December 2013: http://www.wrs.vcu.edu/profiles/SokaGakkai.htm

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Reconnecting with Everyday Life: Buddhism through Simple Gestures in the Café de Monk.” Dharma World Vol. 40 (July-September 2013), 22-25.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Tokyo Governor Says Tsunami is Divine Punishment – Religious Groups Ignore Him.” Religion Dispatches 17 March 2011:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4399/tokyo_governor_says_tsunami_is_divine_punishment%E2%80%94religious_groups_ignore_him

 

Reprinted (with some additions) as “In the Wake of the Tsunami: Religious Responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake.” CrossCurrents Vol. 61 Issue 3 (September 2011): 290-297.

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “SGI-USA no kokujin myūjishantachi” (African-American Musicians in SGI-USA). In Shūkyō to gendai ga wakaru hon 2011. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2011, 168-173 (in Japanese).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Sōka gakkai no bunka katsudō: Nihon bukkyōkei shinshūkyō ni okeru bunkateki rinen no jun’ō to hensen” (Sōka Gakkai’s Cultural Activities: The Adaptation and Transformation of Culture in a Buddhist-based Japanese New Religion). Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyūshohō (June 2004),10-11 (in Japanese).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Shinkō to ongaku no yūwa o mitomete: watashi no deatta sōka gakkai ōkesutora” (Toward a Harmonization of Religious Practice and Music: My Encounter with a Soka Gakkai Orchestra). Sekai (June 2004), 182-189 (in Japanese).

 

McLaughlin, Levi. “Ibunkakan komyunikēshon no arikata” (Means of Intercultural Communication). Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyūshohō (March 2003), 12 (in Japanese).

 

Translations

 

Selected articles for the Encyclopedia of Shinto (English edition of the Shintō jiten. Tokyo: Kōbundō. Kokugakuin University, Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, 1994). Accessible online at: http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/ Completed over one hundred entries (50,000 words).

 

Takemura, Makio. “Zen and Pure Land: An Important Aspect of D.T. Suzuki’s Interpretation of Buddhism.” The Eastern Buddhist Vol.XXXIV No. 2 (2002), 117-140. Journal article (~10,000 words).

 

Long Journey to Japan. Bilingual book and accompanying display items for exhibition at the National Science Museum (Ueno), Japan. Tokyo: NHK Promotions (September to November, 2001).

 

Reviews

 

Women in Japanese Religions. By Barbara Ambros. New York: NYU Press, 2015. In Journal of Japanese Studies 44:1, Winter 2017, 160-165.

 

Beyond the Mushroom Cloud: Commemoration, Religion, and Responsibility after Hiroshima. By Yuki Miyamoto. Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press, 2012. In Journal of Japanese Studies 41:1, Winter 2015, 153-158.

 

Neither Monk nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism. By Richard M. Jaffe. Honolulu: University of Hawai‛i Press, 2011 [2001]. In Pacific Affairs Vol. 84, No. 4, December 2011, 765-766.

 

Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburō, Oomoto, and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan. By Nancy K. Stalker. Honolulu: University of Hawai‛i Press, 2008. In Religious Studies Review Volume 36, No. 3, September 2010, 247.

 

When Tengu Talk: Hirata Atsutane’s Ethnography of the Other World. By Wilburn Hansen. Honolulu: University of Hawai‛i Press, 2008. In Religious Studies Review Volume 36, No. 3, September 2010, 244-245.

 

TEACHING

 

Areas of expertise include Asian religions (particularly traditions of Japan and China), history of modern Asia, theories and methodologies of the study of religion, religion and politics in Asia, Buddhism in modern society, anthropology of religion, fieldwork methodology, religion and humanitarianism.

 

Fall 2012 to present

North Carolina State University, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Courses taught to date: Religious Traditions of the World; Japanese Religions; The Buddhist Traditions; Introduction to the Study of Religion; Asian Religions; and Religion, Disaster, and Development. Also serving on Ph.D. committees and instructing graduate reading courses as Adjunct Professor at the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University, and the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

 

Spring 2012

University of Iowa, Department of Anthropology. Courses taught: Religion and the State in Modern Asia and Investigating Youth Culture in Japan.

 

September 2009 to May 2011

Wofford College, Department of Religion. Courses taught: Religion in China, Japan, and Korea; Anthropology of Religion; Japanese Religion through Popular Culture; Experiencing Religious Lives: Fieldwork on Religion; Japan (led Wofford students on a study tour of Tokyo and Kyoto, January 2011).

 

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS

 

Refereed

 

“Modern Nationalism’s Unanticipated Effects on Japanese Buddhism: Soka Gakkai as a ‘Mimetic Nation-State.’” Presentation 26 January 2018 for “Interrogating Buddhism and Nationalism,” Programme on Modern Burmese Studies, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.

 

“From Pastoral Care to Victim Care: Toward a Genealogy of ‘Trauma’ in Contemporary Japanese Religion.” Presentation 19 November 2017 for panel titled “Trauma in Japanese Religion” at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, Boston, MA.

 

Panelist for discussion of the documentary “Alone in Fukushima,” 18 November 2017 at the American Academy of Religion, Boston, MA.

 

“Defensive Strategies: Tracing Komeito’s Changing Position on Pacifism, Security, and the Japanese Constitution.” Presentation 2 September 2017 for panel titled “Constitutional Revision and the Public Role of Religion” at the 15th International Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies, Lisbon, Portugal.

 

“The Politics of Spirituality in Contemporary Japan.” Presentation 19 March 2017 for panel titled “Spirituality and the Contested Nature of Religion, Place, and Identity in Modern Japan” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Toronto, Canada.

 

“The Soka Gakkai Economy: A Bottom-Up Perspective on Cycles of Exchange that Propel Japan’s Largest New Religion.” Presentation 13 October 2016 for “Buddhism, Business and Economic Relations – in Asia and Beyond” at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

“Understanding Sōka Gakkai’s Campaign-Based Ethos: How Enjoyable Activities Constitute Campaigns for Institutional Expansion and Individual Cultivation within Sōka Gakkai in Japan.” Presentation 24 November 2014 for panel titled “Leisure in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Religions” at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, San Diego, CA.

 

“From Explicit Outrage about New Religions to Euphemisms and Dogwhistles: What the Shift from Shinkō shūkyō to Shinshūkyō Reveals about Class Anxiety, Social Status, and Political Power in Modern Japan.”  Presentation 26 March 2014 for panel titled “Belief, Spiritualism, and Ghosts in the Formulation of Modernity” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

 

“What is a ‛Buddhist’ Response to Disaster? Implications of Contrasting Initiatives by Individuals and Institutions Following the Great East Japan Earthquake.” Presentation 23 November 2012 for “Salvage and Salvation: Religion, Disaster Relief, and Reconstruction in Asia” at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

 

“Divine Punishment? Examining the Contemporary Japanese Struggle with Religion through the Lens of Disaster.” Presentation 15 March 2012 for panel titled “In the Wake of the Tsunami: Perspectives on Religious Responses to the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Toronto, Canada (also served as panel chair).

 

“In the Beginning: A Comparison of How Sōka Gakkai and Kōfuku no Kagaku Formed their Political Parties.”  Presentation 3 April 2011 with Axel Klein (German Institute for Japanese Studies) for panel titled “When Religions Enter Politics: Religious Organizations and their Political Parties in Contemporary Japan” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Honolulu, HI.

 

“The Enlightenment Meets Enlightenment: Conflations of Euro-American Romanticism with Japanese Buddhist Practices in Contemporary Nichiren-Based Organizations.” Presentation 20 August 2010 for panel titled “Interpreting Globalization: Is there a Global Culture of Contemporary Religious Movements” at the 2010 World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), Toronto, Canada (also served as co-chair).

 

“Sōka Gakkai’s Image of East Asia and its Activities in Korea and China.” Presentation 15 August 2010 for panel titled “Dynamics of Transcultural Buddhism in Modern and Postmodern Societies” at the 2010 World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), Toronto, Canada.

 

“Good Wife, Wise Mother, and Soldier of Conversion: How Paradoxical Influences Shape the Lives of Women in Sōka Gakkai.” Presentation 25 March 2010 for panel titled “Telling Lives: The Role of the Individual in Modern Japanese Religions” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Philadelphia, PA (also served as panel chair).

 

“Doctrinal Instruction in Sōka Gakkai: Buddhism as Modern Education.” Presentation 2 November 2008 for the Japanese Religions Group at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, Chicago, IL.

 

“Reconsidering the Periphery: Members’ Perspectives on Sōka Gakkai in the 1950s.” Presentation 6 April 2008 for panel titled “Life on the Margins in 1950s Japan” at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, Atlanta, GA.

 

“Western Influence or Domestic Product? Sōka Gakkai, Cultural Conflations, Pedagogy, and the Representation of the World.” Presentation 17 November 2006 for panel titled “Western Influences on Japanese New Religions” at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Jose, CA.

 

“The Structural Dynamics and Cultural Milieu of Sōka Gakkai in Japan: A Brief Ethnography.” Presentation 17 December 2004 for invited session “Perspectives on New Religious Movements in East Asia” at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Atlanta, GA.

 

“Faith and Practice: The Music of Sōka Gakkai.” Paper delivered 13 May 2001 to the annual meeting of the Association of Anthropology of Japan in Japan at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku), Osaka.

 

Selected Invited Presentations

 

“Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai’s Transforming Relationship: How Changes in Politics and Religion Affect Japan Today.” Roundable presentation 4 October 2018 at the German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo.

 

“Religious Dimensions of Japanese Politics: How Shinto Neonationalists and Buddhist Activists Shape Elections and Policymaking in Japan Today.” Presentation 13 September 2018 for the Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

 

“Religion, Development, and Political Conflict: Case Studies from Contemporary Asia.” 28 June 2018 AREA Ruhr Guest Lecture, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.

 

“The Aesthetics of Religious Belonging.” Workshop 26 June 2018 co-organized with Elizabeth Williams Ørberg at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

“Religion, Corporation, or Nation-State? What Soka Gakkai in Japan Reveals about Corporate Religion.” Presentation 18 June 2018 for the symposium “Corporate Religion in Asia” at the University of Oslo, Norway.

 

“Religion in Everyday Life: A Look at Contemporary Japan.” Presentation 22 March 2018 for K-12 educators, World View East Asia Seminar, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC.

 

“Reassessing the ‘New Religions’ Category: A Study of Soka Gakkai’s Mimesis of the Modern Nation-State.” Presentation 30 January 2018 at the School of Languages, Arts, and Cultures, University of Manchester, UK.

 

“Japan’s Choices: The Challenges Ahead Post-Election.” Roundtable presentation 5 October 2017 at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC.

 

“The Paradox of Religion in Japan: Implications for Japanese Politics.” Presentation 28 April 2017 to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office of Analytic Outreach, United States Department of State, Washington, DC.

 

“Understanding Komeito and its Soka Gakkai Supporters: Insights into Religious Motivations for Political Mobilization.” Roundtable presentation 27 April 2017 for the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, Washington, DC.

 

“New Religion as ‘Mimetic Nation’: Soka Gakkai’s Rise as a Religious and Political Power in Japan.” Presentation 6 April 2017 for the Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

 

Discussant for “Religious Vocations in Modern Japan,” Society for the Study of Japanese Religions session at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, 20 November 2016, San Antonio, TX.

 

“Strange Bedfellows: What Tensions within Japan’s Ruling Coalition Reveal about Contemporary Japanese Religion.” Presentation 3 November 2016 for “Religion and Nationalism in Asia: Perspectives on Japan and the Muslim World,” Duke University, Durham, NC. Co-organizer of workshop with Prasenjit Duara (Duke University).

 

Participant in roundtable titled “How to Study Religion in Times of Crises.” 28 June 2016, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

 

“Japan’s Ruling Coalition Gets Religion.” Presentation 9 June 2016 for the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation “Views from the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future” public symposium, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC.

 

“Soka Gakkai: Buddhism and Romantic Heroism in Modern Japan.” 7 April 2016 Yehan Numata Program Lecture, University of Toronto, Canada.

 

“Religion, Politics, and Family: How the Soka Gakkai Home Shapes Komeito’s Electioneering and Party Policy.” Presentation 19 March 2016 for East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

 

“Religion and Politics in Japan Today: A Look at Komeito’s Soka Gakkai Supporters and Protestors.” Presentation 15 September 2015 for the East Asian Studies Speaker Series, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

 

“Canon Creation in Sōka Gakkai.” Manuscript chapter draft presentation 30 March 2015 for workshop titled “Against Insularity: Moving Beyond ‘Japanese Religions’” at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

 

“Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan.” Presentation 13 March 2015 with Steven R. Reed for the Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

 

“Educational Aspirations as Religious Practice in Sōka Gakkai: Case Studies of Pedagogy and Institution Building in Japan and the United States.” Presentation 22 January 2015 for conference titled “Transpacific Visions: Religion, Spirituality, and the Invisible Connections between Asia and the Americas” at the Center for Transpacific Studies, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

 

“Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan.” Presentation 9 December 2014 with Daniel Smith (Assistant Professor of Government, Harvard University) for the Weatherhead Center Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

 

“The Origins of Sōka Gakkai: Tracing the Transformation of an Educational Reform Society into Japan’s Largest Religious Organization.” Presentation 14 April 2014 for the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

 

“Teaching the Tsunami: Resources for Teaching about Japan’s 2011 Disasters.” Presentation for K-12 teachers at 18 January 2014 Duke University Workshop entitled “Natural Disasters in Asia: Representations & Responses,” Durham, NC.

 

“The Aesthetics of Aspiration: Art and Music in the Rise of Sōka Gakkai in Japan.” Presentation 9 October 2013 at the University of Missouri St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.

 

Respondent for panel at Duke/Korea University Conference “Bordering the Borderless: Faces of Modern Buddhism in East Asia” 4 October 2013, Durham, NC.

 

“Assessing the Place of Religion in Recent Japanese Disaster Responses.” Presentation 5 June 2012 for the Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture, Tokyo, Japan.

 

“Japan One Year After 3/11: Assessing Relief Efforts, Community Responses, and the State of the Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima.” Presentation 25 April 2012 for the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, Iowa City, IA.

 

“Redefining the Term ‛New Religion’: A Case Study of Sōka Gakkai and the Modern Nation-State.” Presentation 18 August 2011 at the Religion and Globalisation Research Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

 

“Buddhism and Globalization: Some Perspectives from Contemporary Japan.” Presentation 23 July 2011 at the Post-Graduate Program in Islam and Politics, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

 

“What’s ‛New’ about a New Religion? Reevaluating Japan’s ‛Rush Hour of the Gods.’” Presentation 15 April 2011 at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

 

“Sōka gakkai no kyōiku katsudō to nin’yō shiken: kiso to genjō” (Sōka Gakkai’s Educational Activities and its Appointment Examination: Origins and Present Conditions” (in Japanese). Presentation 18 June 2010 for the Nanzan University Institute of Religion and Culture, Nagoya, Japan.

 

“Interpreting Religion in a Transregional Context: Case Studies of Sōka Gakkai in the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea.” Presentation 7 May 2010 at an international symposium entitled “From Area Studies to Transregional Studies? Contours of Globalization in Asia’s Re-integration” at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

 

“Western European Influences on Modern Japanese Culture: Perspectives from Religious Studies.” Presentation 20 January 2010 for the Institut zur Erforschung at Universität Bayreuth, Germany.

 

“All Research is Fieldwork: Strategies for Scholarship in a Foreign Culture.” Workshop session 15 January 2010 teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

 

“The Lives of Women in Sōka Gakkai.” Presentation 14 January 2010 for the Institut für Religionswissenschaft at Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

 

“How to Cultivate a Mass Movement: Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives on Sōka Gakkai, Japan’s Largest Active Religion.” Presentation 22 January 2009 for the Center for Japanese Studies’ Noon Lecture Series at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

 

“Die Sōka Gakkai in Japan.” Presentation 27 June 2005 at the Institut für Religionswissenschaft at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

 

“Lateral Support and Vertical Tension: Structural Dynamics, Therapeutic Functions and Administrative Control in Sōka Gakkai.” Paper delivered 13 March 2004 as panelist in workshop on “Consultation, Counseling and Healing in Japanese New Religious and New Spirituality Movements” at the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Tokyo.

 

“Sōka gakkai no bunka katsudō: Nihon bukkyōkei shinshūkyō ni okeru seiyōteki rinen no jun’ō to hensen” (Sōka Gakkai’s Cultural Activities: The Adaptation and Transformation of Western Ideology in a Buddhist-based Japanese New Religion). Presentation 27 February 2004 (in Japanese) to the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics Research Association Meeting, Kokugakuin University, Tokyo.

 

“Fusing Western Culture and Japanese Religion: The Religious Experience of Musicians in Sōka Gakkai.” Paper delivered 12 February 2003 to the History and Humanities Study Group, German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Tokyo.

 

INTERVIEWS

“Soka Gakkai, Kōmeitō and the religious voices of Japan’s political arena.” Interview for The Religious Studies Project: https://religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/soka-gakkai-komeito-and-the-religious-voices-of-japans-political-arena/?platform=hootsuite 4 June 2018.

 

“Canadian scholar casts light on Soka Gakkai as group shows change”: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/01/43ba1ece80ac-feature-canadian-scholar-casts-light-on-soka-gakkai-as-group-shows-change.html. Reprinted as “Soka Gakkai expert casts light on Buddhist group’s struggles since enactment of 2015 security laws” in The Japan Times (print and electronic editions) 7 January 2018.

 

MeaningofLifetv interview on bloggingheads.com: https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/46147 5 May 2017.

 

“Religion and Politics in Japan: A Conversation with Religion Scholar Levi McLaughlin”: https://news.ncsu.edu/2014/12/mclaughlin-japan-election/ 16 December 2016.

 

“Profile: Triangle Center for Japanese Studies”: http://trianglejapan.org/levi-mclaughlin/

 

UNIVERSITY SERVICE

 

2014 to present

Member, Diversity Committee, NC State Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

 

2013 to 2018

Coordinator of the NC State Religious Studies Colloquium series.

 

Faculty Advisor to the NC State Academic Study of Religion Club.

 

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

 

2016 to present

Co-Chair, Japanese Religions Unit, American Academy of Religion. On Unit steering committee from 2011.

 

2013 to 2018

Officer and Secretary, Society for the Study of Japanese Religions (American Academy of Religion affiliate).

 

2010 to 2012

Supervisor, responsible for establishing Wofford College as a host institution for a resident community outreach coordinator from 2010 to 2013 as part of the Japan Outreach Initiative, which is funded and administered by the Japan Foundation and the Laurasian Institution.

 

2008 to present

Peer Reviewer of articles and book manuscripts submitted to Cambridge University Press, Routledge, University of Hawai‛i Press, the journals Asian Ethnology, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Journal of Global Buddhism, Journal of Japanese Studies, Nova Religio, positions, and others.

 

MUSICAL ACTIVITIES AND AWARDS

 

  1. Alan Turner Prize for winning the University of Toronto Hart House Orchestra Concerto Competition (performed the Khachaturian Violin Concerto), Spring 1993.

 

1989 to present

Violinist

Professional and amateur performances in Canada, the United States, and Japan, including solo recitals, recordings, orchestra concertmaster positions and extensive fieldwork through playing music in Japan.

 

Association Memberships

 

American Academy of Religion

 

Association for Asian Studies

 

European Association for Japanese Studies

 

References available upon request