Prof. Jolyon Baraka Thomas Wins AAR Book Award

The department extends its congratulations to Prof. Jolyon Baraka Thomas, whose book Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in Occupied Japan, has won the 2020 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Analytical-Descriptive Studies category from the American Academy of Religion.

The award jury writes of Prof. Thomas's book:

In Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan, Jolyon Baraka Thomas presents the reader with a robust example of how religious freedom is not a self-evident thing, but a category always under negotiation, and always with winners and losers. Thomas shows how the pre-war Japanese were demonized by American forces as lacking a variety of fundamental rights, most notably, a “freedom of religion,” this despite the fact that the Japanese actually embraced such a constitutional concept. Thomas argues that American ideals of “religious freedom” were part of a much larger project of Occupation that, in the case of Japan and the category “religion,” constrained as much as they freed.

For more details on this prestigious award, see the AAR announcement here: