Fabio Rambelli: "Strange Beings from Distant Realms: Outer Barbarians(gali) and Monsters(yokai) in Early Modern Japan
During the Edo period, a wealth of information about foreign lands reached Japan, mostly drawn from Chinese and European sources. At that time, the geopolitical coordinates of Japan changed dramatically, from a Buddhist world-view centered on India to a Confucian-based one centered on East Asia. This paper addresses some of the specific ways in which this geopolitical shift affected the representation of the Others in Japan. In particular, it will explore the relationships between beings from (largely) imaginary lands and popular culture representations of monsters (yōkai).
Fabio Rambelli is the Professor of Japanese Religion and Intellectual History and the International Shinto Foundation Chair of Shinto Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, and in the Department of Religious Studies, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds a PhD in East Asian Studies (Italy, 1992). Prior to his current position at UCSB, he taught in Europe, the United States, and Japan. His main research interests concern the history of Buddhism and Shinto in Japan, issues of intercultural representation, and cultural semiotics. He is the author of Vegetal Buddhas (2001) and Buddhist Materiality (2007), and the co-editor of Recon guring Cultural Semiotics(Versus, 1999, with Patrizia Violi) and Buddhas and Kami in Japan (2003, with Mark Teeuwen). He is currently working on a book on Buddhist semiotic theories; other ongoing projects deal with the representation of India in the cultural imagination of premodern Japan and the relations of Buddhism with local cults in Asia.