Asian Religions

This field comprises the study of the various religious traditions of Asia, both in Asia and in its diaspora. It draws on critical studies in the humanities and social sciences, and it brings to the study of Asian religions diverse languages, studies of literary, visual, and performing arts, material culture, popular movements, and theory.

Students should take advantage of the extensive offerings in Asian languages, literatures, history, anthropology, and art history at Duke in their area of concentration. Students are also encouraged to take full advantage of the offerings in Asian and religious studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in constructing their curriculum and selecting committee members.

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • Must focus studies on a particular religious tradition/region:
      • East Asian Buddhism in Asia and the diaspora from the 17th Century to the present
      • Japanese religions from the 17th Century to the present
      • South Asian religions, particularly non-Islamic traditions in South Asia and diaspora in the colonial and post-colonial periods
      • Chinese religions
      • Daoism
    • 4 Courses each semester for 2 years
      • Courses should be selected so that students will not be required to complete more than 2 major research papers in a single semester
  • Languages
    • Must demonstrate by exam a reading knowledge of 2 languages other than the student's native language (Choice of languages depend on focus on student's work.)
    • Expertise in the primary source language(s) associated with student's subfield will be demonstrated by either coursework or examination
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour major field exam
    • 3-hour dissertation-area exam
    • 3-hour minor exam, normally inside minor
    • 3-hour additional minor exam, normally outside minor
    • 2-hour oral examination
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

Asian Religions

Yasmine Singh: "Goddess in Flux: Devotional Intimacy and Everyday Life at a Regional Indian Pilgrimage Site." 2019. Advisor: Leela Prasad

Mani Rao: "Visionary Experience of Mantra. An Ethnography in Andhra-Telangana." 2016. Advisor: Leela Prasad

Matthew Mitchell: Beyond the Convent Walls: The Local and Japan-wide Activities of Daihongan's Nuns in the Early Modern Period (c. 1550-1868)." 2016. Advisor: Richard Jaffe

​Jeff Schroeder: "After Kiyozawa: A Study of Shin Buddhist Modernization, 1890-1956." 2015. Advisor: Richard Jaffe

Uri Kaplan: "Transforming Orthodoxies: Buddhist Curriculums and Educational Institutions in Contemporary South Korea." 2015. Advisor: Richard Jaffe