Asian Ethnology Podcast

Secrecy, Buddhist Psychology, and Editing Academic Journals

Interviewer: Ben Dorman, co-editor Asian Ethnology

Recorded 9 July 2017, Nagoya, Japan

This episode's guest is Clark Chilson, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh. Clark discusses his experiences studying anthropology in Japan, his research interests that include secrecy and a form of Buddhist psychology called naikan ("introspection"), and his time working as the associate editor of Asian Folklore Studies, the predecessor of Asian Ethnology

Episode Summary

Intro :41

Reasons for for coming to Japan 2:23

Study in Japan 3:30

Approach to ethnographic fieldwork and the question of memory 4:20

Studying anthropology in Japan 5:49

Meeting and studying with Peter Knecht, professor of anthropology at Nanzan University and editor of Asian Folklore Studies; Peter’s influence on Clark 7:33

Move to religious studies at Lancaster University and study of secretive Pure Land Buddhist groups 11:00

Return to Japan to work at Nanzan as copy editor/associate editor of Asian Folklore Studies (and Japanese Journal of Religious Studies); the experience of journal work and the pursuit of the “perfect” issue 15:01

Reflections on journal experience in terms of personal scholarship and research 19:11

Move back to US; discussion on Secrecy’s Power (see Publications listing below); the consequences of secrecy 24:57

Work on the leadership of Ikeda Daisaku, leader of Sōka Gakkai; research and experience of psychotherapeutic practice of naikan (“introspection”) which grew out of Pure Land Buddhism 29:40

Work on special issue co-edited with Scott Schnell in honor of Peter Knecht; co-editing of Shamans in Asia with Peter 36:16

Outro 36:47

Publications discussed in this episode


Chilson, Clark. Secrecy's Power: Covert Shin Buddhists in Japan and Contradictions of Concealment. University of Hawai'i Press (July 2014)

Edited volumes

Chilson, Clark, and Peter Knecht. Shamans in Asia. Routledge (June 9, 2003).

Music used with kind permission of the performer, shamisen master Koji Yamaguchi.

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