Michigan Talks Japan

Jolyon Baraka Thomas

Episode Summary

In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Prof. Jolyon Baraka Thomas, whose research focuses on religion as it intersects with media, freedom, education, and capitalism. The conversation centers on his book "Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan." Topics of discussion include: State Shintō, religious freedom, the Meiji Constitution, the Allied Occupation of Japan, tools of American empire, rhetoric and practices of freedom, development studies, anti-Black racism in Japan and in Asian Studies, education, inequities, DEI rhetoric and practices.

Episode Notes

In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Prof. Jolyon Baraka Thomas, whose research focuses on religion as it intersects with media, freedom, education, and capitalism. The conversation centers on his book Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan. Topics of discussion include: State Shintō, religious freedom, the Meiji Constitution, the Allied Occupation of Japan, tools of American empire, rhetoric and practices of freedom, development studies, anti-Black racism in Japan and in Asian Studies, education, inequities, DEI rhetoric and practices.

In the course of our conversation, which occurred before the murders in Atlanta and subsequent attention to ongoing violence toward Asian and Asian American people, Dr. Thomas referenced a few public materials highlighting racism and anti-Black racism in Japan, Asian Studies, and the United States. We have gathered them here, in case listeners might want to explore them further (in the order they appear in our conversation):

Dr. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. You can find him on twitter @jolyonbt.