Jolyon Thomas researches religion in Japan and the United States. His most recent monograph, Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2019. His first book, Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan, appeared from University of Hawai`i Press in 2012. He is now working on a third book, tentatively titled Difficult Subjects: Religion and the Politics of Public Schooling in Japan and the United States. He is also co-editing The New Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions.
PhD, Religion, Princeton University (2014)
MA, Asian Religions, University of Hawaii at Manoa (2008)
BA, Religious Studies, Grinnell College (2001)
Religion and media
Religion and education
Religion and capitalism
Childhood, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Material and Visual Culture
Modernities, Secularism, and Science
Politics and Publics
RELS 079/EALC 079 "The Religion of Anime" (Fall 2020 video syllabus coming soon!)
RELS 258/EALC 257 “Asian Religions in the Global Imagination”
RELS271/EALC253 “The Politics of Shinto”
RELS254/ANTH254 "Violence, Tolerance, Freedom"
Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019)
Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2012)
“The Buddhist Virtues of Raging Lust and Crass Materialism in Contemporary Japan,” Material Religion 11, no. 4 (2016): 485–506.
“Varieties of Religious Freedom in Japanese Buddhist Responses to the 1899 Religions Bill,” The Asian Journal of Law & Society 3, no. 1 (2016): 49–70.
"Free Inquiry and Japanese Buddhist Studies: The Case of Katō Totsudō," Japanese Religions 39, nos. 1–2 (2014): 31–51.
"Horrific 'Cults' and Comic Religion: Manga after Aum," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 39, no. 1 (2012): 127–51.
Corporate Profit Through Buddhist Kitsch (Sacred Matters)
Domesticity & Spirituality: Kondo is Not an Animist (The Marginalia Review of Books)
Even Religious Freedom Victories Harbor Defeats (Killing the Buddha)
Field Notes on Drinking at a Buddhist Bar (Sacred Matters)
Religious Freedom, Weapon of Choice (The Revealer)
Tongue in Cheek, Just in Case (Sacred Matters)
What Is Shintō? (Nippon.com)
Difficult Subjects: Religion and the Politics of Public Schooling in Japan and the United States (proposal under consideration)
"Why Scholars of Religion Must Investigate the Corporate Form," coauthored article with Levi McLaughlin, Aike P. Rots, and Chika Watanabe, accepted for publication and forthcoming in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
- American Academy of Religion (Japanese Religions Unit steering committee; Religion and the Arts Award Jury)
- American Studies Association
- Association for Asian Studies
- International Association for Buddhist Studies
- Japanese Association for Religious Studies (Nihon Shūkyō Gakkai)
- Society for the Study of Japanese Religions