Civility, Community and Awareness in Practices of the Sacred in Asia

Over more than 20 years, Eiko Ikegami has studied a particular Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan, which has been running a famous annual festival continuously for a thousand years. For background, see this brief blog. The photo included here was taken by Eiko during her annual July pilgrimage to Gion in Kyoto. This historic district is overrun by Kyoto locals, kimono-clad women, and camera-happy tourists who come to admire the giant floats parading through the streets and eat from night stalls serving Japanese cuisine.


This multi-regional and interdisciplinary project explores religious life in the cities and villages of Asia to rethink the public role of religion and its implications to construct civil society and democracy. We propose to reconsider the public roles of religions in Asia from an everyday perspective. We are interested in the way people practice religion to create public spheres in concrete local settings (cities and villages) in Asia. We will focus on three mutually correlated theoretical focuses:

To identify and analyze the ways that the sites of the sacred mobilize the practices of civility in communities in spite of the presence of political and social divisions in Asia
To examine environmental practices in relation to the sites of the sacred
To explore public roles of religious practices and shrines in concrete community rebuilding processes after major disasters in Asia.