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Elisabeth Marx

Areas of Interest

  • sociology of knowledge and global knowledge exchange
  • (intellectual) history of Japan, especially the Early modern period and the transition to the modern age
  • theories of secularisation, secularism and secularity
  • gender (re-)constructions in Japanese modern popular media

Notions of the Secular in Intellectual Discourse on Japan

In Japan, plans by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to revise the Japanese constitution and modify article 9 have sparked debates about the revision of articles 20 and 89 on the relationship between state and religion. The revision of these articles is not a new subject of debate. Indeed, the LDP has aimed to revise the articles in question since the party was established in the 1950s. In the context of this debate, it is necessary to distinguish between concepts of the secular and concepts of religion and religious practice.

In this project, I look for explicit concepts and notions regarding the distinction between the secular and the religious in contemporary intellectual discourse on Japan. To find these, I turn to discourses that have shaped concepts of secularisation, secularism and secularity in the present Japanese cultural context. My analysis will encompass discourse by Japanese intellectuals, including scholars, journalists, and religious elites, as well as discourse by people outside of Japan who have discussed these concepts in relation to Japan. The scope of my selection relates to my focus being on how intellectuals adapt, (re-)define and articulate concepts.

My research looks at material from the 1970s, when secularisation theory was first debated in Japan, up until the present day. It includes translational works, monographs and articles in scholarly journals or public newspapers, allowing an insight into Japanese terminology and interpretations of non-Japanese concepts. Reviewing this material will enable an exploration of specific Japanese conceptualisations of the secular, how these were influenced by non-Japanese contexts and the areas where these concepts were and are still discussed.


2019 - present

Junior Researcher, HCAS Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2018 - present
​2014 - 2017

M.A. in Cultural Studies, Institute for the Study of Culture, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2011 - 2012

Shinshu University Exchange Student Program, Shinshu University, Nagano (JPN)

​2009 - 2014

B.A. in Japanese Studies, Institute for East Asian Studies, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)