“Religion” and “Politics”
A Japanese Case
Keywords:Japan, Timothy Fitzgerald, mystification, secularity, politics
Timothy Fitzgerald’s The Ideology of Religious Studies should not be read as something just about “religion,” but about the modern Euro- American “secularity,” which functions to mystify the colonial matrix of power of Euro-American modernity. Fitzgerald’s later work focuses on two mutually parasitic categories of “religion” and “politics.” As a case study of the Fitzgeraldian perspective, this article examines the construction of the religion-politics distinction in Japan since the late nineteenth century. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the aggression of Euro-American colonial power motivated Japan’s elites to institutionalize the nation based upon the Euro-American concepts of “politics” and “religion.” After Japan’s defeat in the Second World War in 1945, the US-led Allied Occupation redefined prewar Japanese state orthodoxy and institutions as “religion,” in order to eliminate them from the post-war Japanese statecraft.
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