Friday September 21
East Asia Seminar Series
David C. Kang
Professor of International Relations and Business, and Director of the Korean Studies Institute, USC
Associate Professor of Political Science, Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
In premodern East Asia, the Confucian and also deeply Buddhist and shamanist -- countries of Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China rarely experienced anything like the type of religious violence that existed for centuries in historical Europe. How do we explain a region in which religion was generally not a part of the explanation for war, terrorism, and other violence? I argue that the dominant inclusivist religions of historical East Asia that were syncretic and polytheistic Buddhism, Confucianism, and shamanism -- did not easily lend themselves to appropriation by political entrepreneurs as a means of differentiating groups or justifying violence. Directly addressing the paucity of religious war in historical East Asia is theoretically important: widening the empirical scope of scholarship to include a focus on the major foundational religions of East Asia addresses a potentially serious issue of selection bias. David C. Kang is Professor of International Relations and Business, and Director of the Korean Studies Institute, at USC. Kang's latest book is East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (Columbia University Press, 2010). He received an A.B. with honors from Stanford University and his Ph.D. from Berkeley.