Converting Cultures

Religion, Ideology and Transformations of Modernity


This volume fundamentally improves our understanding of processes like the secularization of society, and the growth of mass ideological movements, by looking upon these transformations to modernity as a species of conversion akin to religious conversion. The geographical areas covered by the contributors—the Ottoman domain, India, China, and Japan—provide striking examples of the dynamic force of conversion as a reaction to the tremendous pressures exerted by colonialism and imperialism and by the types of transformations constitutive of modernity.

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Biographical Note

Dennis C. Washburn, Ph.D (1991) in Japanese Literature, Yale University, is Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. He is the author of several studies and translations including Translating Mount Fuji: Modern Japanese Fiction and the Ethics of Identity (Columbia, 2006).
A. Kevin Reinhart, Ph.D (1986) from the Committee on the Study of Religion, Harvard University, is Associate Professor in the Religion Department, Dartmouth College. He has published on Islamic law, theology and ethics, and on late Ottoman-period Islam.

Table of contents

Part 1: Converting States: Nationalism, Ritual, and Religious Identity
The Crisis of “Conversion” and Search for National Doctrine in Early Meiji Japan - Trent Maxey
Civic Faith and Hybrid Ritual in Nationalist China - Rebecca Nedostup
The Atmosphere of Conversion in Interwar Japan - Alan Tansman
Adamant And Treacherous: Serbian Historians On Religious Conversions - Bojan Aleksov
Part 2: Converting Institutions: Education, Media, and Mass Movements
Gender, Conversion, and Social Transformation: The American Discourse of Domesticity and the Origins of the Bulgarian Women’s Movement, 1857-1876 - Barbara Reeves-Ellington
Secular Conversion as a Turkish Revolutionary Project in the 1930s - Ertan Aydin
Some Consideration on the Building of an Ottoman Public Identity in the Nineteenth Century -Şerif Mardin
Science Without Conscience: Unno Jūza and Tenkō of Convenience - Sari Kawana
Charismatic Entrepreneurship and Conversion: Oomoto Proselytization, 1916-1935 - Nancy Stalker
Part 3: Converting Selves: Translating Modern Identity
Translation and Conversion Beyond Western Modernity: Tolstoian Religion in Meiji Japan - Sho Konishi
Civilization and Its Discussants: Medeniyet and the Turkish Conversion to Modernism - Kevin Reinhart
The Double Bind of Race and Religion: The Conversion of the Dönme to Turkish Secular Nationalism - Marc Baer
The Body as the Locus of Religious Identity: Examples from Western India - James W. Laine
The Poetics of Conversion and the Problem of Translation in Endō Shūsaku's Silence - Dennis Washburn
Part 4: Converting Others: Hybridity and the Problem of Sincerity
“Mass Movements” in South India, 1877-1936 - Eliza F. Kent
From Morals to Melancholy: How a Japanese Critic Rejected Bakin and Learned to Love Shakespeare - Patrick Caddeau
Hidden Believers, Hidden Apostates: The Phenomenon of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Christians in the Middle East - Maurus Reinkowski
True Believers? Agency and Sincerity in Representations of “Mass Movement" Converts in 1930s India - Laura Dudley Jenkins
From Ideological Literature to a Literary Ideology: “Conversion” in Wartime Japan - James Dorsey


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