1st Research Meeting (June 2009)

The First Research Meeting (7 June 2009)
The first meeting of this project was held at Hongo Campus, University of Tokyo, on the seventh of June, 2009. Ten researchers, including the leader of the project as well as nine other members attended. The substance of the meeting was as follows.

First, Katsumi Fukasawa, the leader of the project, explained the objects and the procedure of this project to other members. The objects of this project are (1) to examine the problem of the religious “otherness” from the viewpoint of coexistence, acceptance and syncretism, as well as that of opposition, exclusion and conflict (2) to reconstruct the spiritual worlds of various religious groups in history, to avoid reducing religion to a superficial agent or representative of political ideologies, and by analyzing a religious belief in itself (3) to revaluate esotericism as an intellectual attempt to overcome religious conflicts and to return to a universal archetype of religion (4) and, on top of the above (1)-(3), to understand both processes of sociological acceptance/exclusion and those of intellectual strife/reconciliation between different religious groups.

Following the above, Fukasawa proposed the procedure of this research project, which was agreed to by the meeting. (1) in 2009 two research meetings will be held, and a website of this project will be prepared; (2) in 2010 and 2011 several workshops will be held, where outside researchers will be invited to join; (3) in the final year of 2012, an international symposium will be organized, after which a collection of essays, written in English and other European languages, will be published to conclude this project.

Second, each member gave the outline of his/her plan of research for this project. Hiromi Saito cited issues on the co-existence of religious groups in medieval Venice by making a survey of the recent historiography. Sugiko Nishikawa, after pointing out the fact that the Act of toleration in England after the Glorious Revolution actually promoted confessionalisation of state and society, expressed her interest in the occasional conformity which was devised as a partial solution to that problem. Yutaka Horii, a historian of the Ottoman Empire, argued the possibilities of such topics as (a) relationship between Ulama and ??f?, (b) mode of existence of the Dhimm? within the empire, (c) conditions under which foreigners lived. Shunsuke Katsuta, after confirming the importance of the religious divide between Protestants and Catholics in the modern history of Ireland, pointed out the worsening relationship between them in the 1830s. Toshiyuki Chiba, directing his attention to the issues of religious conflict and reconciliation in the colonial movements in medieval Europe, suggested the possibility of a new approach by using records of provincial convocations and bishops’ visitations. Makoto Kato, showing cases of such religious minorities in south-western France in the medieval period as Cathares, Jews, lepers and cagots (a kind of discriminated people), reconsidered the importance of sources of the Inquisition. Hiroshi Miyano, focusing on the internal divide in the Orthodox Church in early modern Russia, expressed his intention to study the significance of the conflict between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Mount Athos and Constantinople. Taihei Yamamoto manifested his intention of studying the conciliating and eclectic tendencies of the Family of Love, a secret society in seventeenth-century Netherlands, which could be regarded as an attempt of returning to a universal religious principle. Masanori Sakano, specialising in the foreign missionary of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century France, indicated a possibility of analysing the relationship between various missionary bodies and the religious ‘other’ in Pondicherry.

Each of the above plans of research was accompanied with vivid discussion, which was beneficial to deepen mutual understanding. It was also agreed, on the proposal by Sugiko Nishikawa, that an invitation would be made to Graeme Murdock, a lecturer of Trinity College Dublin for research seminars of this research project.