Organized Panel Session
This panel brings together scholars employing a broad range of sources to highlight interactions between religion and politics that informed the process of legitimation in various Asian religions. From their respective historical standpoints, the four papers grapple with the fact that the religious and political spheres were never neatly distinguishable. With this in mind, how did political rulers legitimate or influence religious thought and practice? In what ways did religious practices and doctrine affect the political realm, at times empowering certain political figures or viewpoints? In order to consider these questions more broadly, the papers focus on diverse traditions (Buddhism, Islam, New Religions, and Hinduism) in four distinct geographical contexts: China, South Asia, Japan, and Trinidad. April D. Hughes demonstrates how Buddhist worldly saviors were a significant component of Chinese imperial validation among medieval-era rebel leaders. SherAli Tareen seeks to understand the ways in which Muslim scholars in eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century South Asia accentuated the exceptionality of their own faith through inter-religious translations of Hindu texts. Takashi Miura investigates how the leaders of Japanese new religions utilized the discourse of “superstition” to attack contemporaneous religious movements and present their own teachings as beneficial for modern Japan. Prea Persaud examines the history of Indo-Trinidadian Hindus, who negotiated between Hindu nationalism and Trinidadian patriotism in order to legitimate their Caribbean identity. We would like to stress the diversity of the proposed panel, consisting of women and men, persons of color, as well as junior and senior scholars.