Cogan, “The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, and Gender in Early Edo Japan”

Next month, Harvard will publish The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, 9780674491977and Gender in Early Edo Japan, by Gina Cogan (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows.

The Princess Nun tells the story of Bunchi (1619–1697), daughter of Emperor Go-Mizunoo and founder of Enshōji. Bunchi advocated strict adherence to monastic precepts while devoting herself to the posthumous welfare of her family. As the first full-length biographical study of a premodern Japanese nun, this book incorporates issues of gender and social status into its discussion of Bunchi’s ascetic practice and religious reforms to rewrite the history of Buddhist reform and Tokugawa religion.

Gina Cogan’s approach moves beyond the dichotomy of oppression and liberation that dogs the study of non-Western and premodern women to show how Bunchi’s aristocratic status enabled her to carry out reforms despite her gender, while simultaneously acknowledging how that same status contributed to their conservative nature. Cogan’s analysis of how Bunchi used her prestigious position to further her goals places the book in conversation with other works on powerful religious women, like Hildegard of Bingen and Teresa of Avila. Through its illumination of the relationship between the court and the shogunate and its analysis of the practice of courtly Buddhism from a female perspective, this study brings historical depth and fresh theoretical insight into the role of gender and class in early Edo Buddhism.

Panel: Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality (Oct. 30)

In New York on October 30, the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, together with BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, will host a luncheon and panel discussion on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality. Featured speakers include:

  • Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and author of a new report, “Freedom of Religion or Belief and  Equality Between Men and Women”;
  • Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women;
  • Gulalai Ismail, founder and chairperson of  Aware Girls;
  • Margareta Grape, representative to the UN, World Council of Churches;
  • Tina Ramirez, president, Hardwired.

Details are here.

“Gender and Violence in Islamic Societies: Patriarchy, Islamism and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa” (Sahli, ed.)

This July, I. B. Tauris will publish Gender and Violence in Islamic Societies: Patriarchy, Islamism and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa, a collection edited by Zahia Smail Sahli (University of Manchester). The publisher’s description follows:

 As a result of the revolutions and movements of resistance that spread across the Middle East and North Africa after 2011, the issue of public violence by the state against both men and women dominated the headlines. But gender-based violence, in both its public and private forms, has for the most part remained unnoticed and is often ignored. The forms that this kind of violence can take are influenced by cultural norms and religious beliefs, as well as economic and political circumstances. Here, Zahia Smail Salhi brings together a wide range of examples of gender-based violence across the Middle East and North Africa, from working environments in Jordan to domestic abuse in Egypt, and from verbal violence against women in Tunisia and Algeria to analysis of violence against underage girl domestic workers in Morocco. The evidence demonstrates that the violence, far from being of universal character across the region, is instead diverse, in both its intensity and in the processes of addressing such violence.