Religions of Asia
Religions of Asia specializes in ethnographic and historical approaches to the study of the religions of Asia. Students in this field of specialization focus on Asian traditions in their social, cultural, and historical environments and contexts of exchange. Participants in this concentration use a variety of methodologies to explore specific questions and themes (including gender, diaspora, personhood and identity, place and pilgrimage, religion and the state, transnationalism/globalization, and the cultural and political dynamics of religious modernity) as these intersect, influence, and are influenced by past and present religious formations in Asia. Core faculty have particular expertise in the contemporary religious worlds of Japan and Nepal.
All students are required to complete RELI 885, Buddhism and Buddhist Studies, and to demonstrate proficiency in the language or languages of primary research. Other courses will be selected in consultations between the student and her or his advisor. Participants in this specialization are encouraged to collaborate with faculty in other graduate specializations (including Religion and Culture, Islamic Studies, and Religion in the Americas) and at Duke University.
Each student is required to be competent in two modern research languages. These languages are commonly French and German, through other research languages can be substituted with the approval of the faculty in the field and the student’s advisor if appropriate for the student’s specific area of research. Each student is also required to acquire reading knowledge of the Asian languages relevant to the student’s specific areas of research.
All Ph.D. candidates are required to pass a set of four Doctoral Examinations. Faculty members, in consultation with the student, will determine the topics of the exams based upon the student’s area of specialization.
Examination areas may include:
- Theory and method in the study of religions of Asia
- Basic themes and critical issues in one or more subfield or Asian religious tradition
- History and culture of the student’s sub-specialization (i.e., historical period and/or ethnographic area and religious tradition).
- For comparative purposes, students will also be required to demonstrate secondary mastery of one additional tradition or form of religiosity. Secondary mastery is defined for these purposes as familiarity with the precepts, history, culture, scholarly traditions in regard to, and current critical issues within, scholarship related to that tradition.