Project

Networks of Space and Identity: Origin Narratives and Manifestations of the Itsukushima Deity

Program

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Department

East Asian Languages and Cultures

Abstract

My dissertation examines the religious imagination of Itsukushima Shrine from 1200-1600 to investigate the translocal networks involved in the production of shared knowledge concerning local Buddhist and kami deities. Taking Itsukushima Shrine as a central node rather than as the object of study, the dissertation traces how scholarly monks established connections between different deities and sacred spaces through the writing, circulation, and compilation of temple and shrine origin narratives (jisha engi) and encyclopedic anthologies about the gods. The dissertation shows how seemingly site-specific narratives and practices incorporated details about other gods and sites to emphasize their commonalities and linkages. Through these connections, Itsukushima transcended geographic boundaries and became a crucial part of networks of sacred space extending throughout Japan. Focusing on interrelations rather than a single deity, the dissertation approaches the study of the gods from a new perspective outside of binary distinctions between transcendental buddhas and local kami deities.