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Book Reviews
Bocking, B.;
Review of: Bernard FAURE, Michael COMO, IYANAGA Nobumi (eds.) Rethinking Medieval Shintō. Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 16 (2006/2007) Kyoto; École Française d'Extrême-Orient Centre de Kyoto. x + 392pp.
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In CSJR Bulletin, Autumn 2010

This very substantial guest-edited volume of Cahiers d'extrême-Asie emerged from the Symposium on Medieval Shintō held at Columbia University in 2007; a symposium organised, as Michael Como says in his preface `in response to a dramatic re-orientation in the field of Shintō studies that has occurred in the last 20 years, as scholars in Japan and the West have increasingly questioned long-held assumptions concerning both the status of Shintō as a religious tradition and its relationship to broader paradigms of Japanese religiosity and nationalism'.  CSJR Newsletter readers aware of this `dramatic re-orientation' in Shintō studies, epitomised for example in John Breen and Mark Teeuwen's A New History of Shintō published earlier this year, will nevertheless find a vast amount of challenging and intriguing new material in Rethinking Medieval Shintō. Allan Grapard, to whom the volume is dedicated, had challenged participants in the symposium to `find a way forward¿ in a field where neither religion nor politics has the upper hand and where the definition of [medieval] Shintō and the question of imperial authority `remain wide open and will never be solved by laws or studies ignoring the complex history of interdependence between rule-governed behavior, ritual efficacy in context, and several definitions of creative power as opposed to restrictive power' (p.18). The various articles may thus be seen as energetic and thoughtful responses to this challenge. .... (full text at www.soas.ac.uk/csjr/newsletter/file63302.pdf )

SOAS, London
Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions
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