Jason Josephson Storm

JJ Josephson-Storm

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm
Professor of Religion
Chair of History of Science

Office: Hollander Hall, Rm 302
Phone: (413) 597-2339
E-mail: [email protected]

M.T.S., Harvard University
Ph.D., Stanford University

Program Affiliations:
Asian Studies
Comparative Literature
Science & Technology Studies

Next Leave: 2019-2020


· REL 101: “Introduction to the Study of Religion
· REL 102: “The Meaning of Life
· REL 103: “The Way of Power: A History of Occult Knowledge and Practices
· REL 200: “What is Religion? Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
· REL 250 (ASST): “Saints, Scholars, and Immortals: Virtue Ethics in East Asia
· REL 251 (ASST): “Zen Buddhism: History and Historiography
· REL 257: “Gods and Demons in East Asian Religion
· REL 259 (HIST): “Japanese Religions and the State
· REL 271 (ASST/COMP/WGSS): “Erotic, Grotesque, Sublime: Ghosts & Monsters in East Asia
· REL 290T: “Explorations of the Afterlife
· REL 297T (ANTH/COMP): “Theorizing Magic
· REL 300: “Dialectics and the Archaeology of Knowledge: AdornoFoucault, and the Philosophy of History”
· REL 301a: “Word Virus: Cultural Studies after the Linguistic Turn
· REL 301 (COMP/SCST/SOC/WGSS) “Social Construction
· REL 317 : “Disenchantment, Modernity, and the Death of God
· REL 327 (COMP): “Theory After Postmodernism: New Materialisms and Realisms
· REL 337 (ASST/COMP): “Zen & Philosophy: The Kyoto School & Its Legacy
· REL 350 (SOC/COMP): “Max Weber & Critical Theory / Rationalization & Its Discontents
· REL 354 (COMP) “Friedrich Nietzsche: Philosophizing with a Hammer” 
· REL 401: “Senior Seminar: Genealogies of Religion
· REL 402: “Senior Seminar: Cognitive Theories of Religion

Research Areas:

· East Asia: Japanese Religions, History of Science in East Asia, Japanese and Chinese Philosophy, East Asian Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto.
· European Intellectual History (1600-present): History of Science (especially Social Sciences including Religious Studies), History of Philosophy, History of Religion, Esotericism (spiritualism, theosophy, magic, etc).
· Theory: Theories of Religion, Continental Philosophy, Science & Technology Studies/Philosophy of Science, Critical Theory, Sociological Theory (especially Max Weber), Linguistics.


Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm* received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University in 2006 and has held visiting positions at Princeton University, École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris and Ruhr Universität, Germany. He has three primary research foci: Japanese Religions, European Intellectual History, and Theory more broadly. The common thread to his research is an attempt to decenter received narratives in the study of religion and science. His main targets have been epistemological obstacles, the preconceived universals which serve as the foundations of various discourses. Storm has also been working to articulate new research models for Religious Studies in the wake of the collapse of poststructuralism as a guiding ethos in the Humanities.

Japanese Religions: Storm’s scholarship initially concentrated on Japan in the Edo-Meiji Era (1600-1912), treating it as a central node in a series of semi-overlapping transnational networks. Drawing largely on archival sources written in Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch, he worked on the importation of the Euro-American concepts of “religion,” “science,” and “secularism” into Japan and traced the sweeping changes—intellectual, legal, and cultural—that followed.

This line of research culminated in his award-winning book, The Invention of Religion in Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2012), the first study in any European language to reveal how Japanese officials, under extreme international pressure, came to terms with the Western concept of religion by “discovering” religion in Japan and formulating policies to guarantee its freedom.

A secondary area of research is European Intellectual History (esp. English, French, German) from 1600 to the present with particular attention to the cultural context of the formation of the Human Sciences and the construction of “religion” as an object of humanistic inquiry

This research came to fruition in The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences (University of Chicago Press, 2017) which challenges the most widely held account of modernity and its rupture from the pre-modern past. Based on archival research in five different countries, this monograph traces the history of notions of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, it shows that the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.

Theory: Storm also has an abiding passion for Continental Philosophy and Theory more generally. In graduate school, he was trained in Francophone poststructuralism (with a special attention to the work of Michel Foucault) and East Asian philosophy (especially the phenomenology of the Kyoto School). But he has more recently been working on the legacy of the Hegelian dialectical tradition, especially as articulated by Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. Storm juxtaposes these philosophical movements with contemporary insights from the fields of linguistics, conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte), and cognitive anthropology. In this research he has been focusing on issues relevant to epistemology, virtue ethics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of science.

In this philosophical mode, he is currently completing a further book length manuscript–Metamodernism:  The Future of Theory after Postmodernismwhich uses insights from science studies, feminist new materialism, Japanese philosophy, and both continental and analytic philosophy (especially philosophy of science) to address one of the central impasses of the discipline of Religious Studies—the disintegration of its central term “religion.” It articulates new methods for the social sciences by simultaneously radicalizing and moving past the postmodern turn. It is currently under contract with the University of Chicago Press with an anticipated delivery date of August 2019

* Note about name: Josephson Storm got married in August 2016. For publishing purposes, he began hyphenating his professional surname with his wife’s surname (Storm) (although his larger plan is probably to eventually adopt “Jason Storm” as a professional name). Pre-2017 publications are under his birth-name Jason Ānanda Josephson, later publications will appear under Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm. Polite students are welcome to refer to him as “Professor Storm.” 

Selected Publications:






Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

  1. “Max Weber and the Rationalization of Magic,” Yelle and Trein edt., Narratives of Disenchantment and Secularization, Forthcoming.
  2. “Religious Studies and the Jargon of Authenticity” in Smith, Führding, and Hermann edts., Hijacked!: A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of “Good” and “Bad” Religion, Forthcoming.
  3. “Paradoxes of Diversity in Contemporary Japan” in Schilbrack, edt. The WileyBlackwell Companion to Religious Diversity, Blackwell, Forthcoming.
  4. “The Mystical ‘Occident’ or the Vibrations of Modernity in the Mirror of Japanese Thought,” Rambelli edt.,Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan, 2019.
  5. The Superstition, Secularism, and Religion Trinary or Re-Theorizing Secularism Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 30, No.1 (2018), 1-20.
  6. 絶対的妖怪―井上円了、仏教哲学の課題、心霊の棲むポストカント思想の境界領域/Monsters of the Absolute: Inoue Enryō, the Task of Buddhist Philosophy, and the Haunted Borderlands of Post-Kantian Thought,” 国際井上円了研究, Issue 5, (2017), 1-21.
  7. Specters of Reason: Kantian Things and the Fragile Terrors of Philosophy” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Vol. 3, No.1 (2015), 204-211.
  8. L’invention des religions japonaises : Les limites de l’orientalisme et de l’universalismeAsdiwal: revue genevoise d’anthropologie et d’histoire des religions Vol.10 (2015), 77-96.
  9.  “The Politics of Buddhist Studies in Early Twentieth-Century JapanJapanese Religions, Vol.29, No. 1&2 (2014), 1-9.
  10. “The Invention of Religions in East Asia” in Turner and Salemink edts., The Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia, Routledge2014.
  11. God’s Shadow: Occluded Possibilities in the Genealogy of ‘Religion’” History of Religions, Vol. 52, No. 4 (May 2013), 309–339.
  12. “The Empowered World: Buddhist Medicine and the Potency of Prayer in Japan” in Stolow, edt. Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between. Fordham University Press, 2012.
  13. “The Invention of Japanese Religions,” Religion Compass, 2011. 5, 589–597.
  14. “Evil Cults, Monstrous Gods, and the Labyrinth of Delusion: Defining Heresy in Meiji Japan” Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung. 2009. 33, 39–59.
  15. “アメリカにおける近代日本仏教史研究,” 日本思想史, 2009. 75, 145-166.
  16. “When Buddhism Became a “Religion”: Religion and Superstition in the Writings of Inoue Enryō.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 2006, 33/1, 143–68.

Standalone Translations:

  1. Inoue Enryō 井上円了, “Prolegomena to an Argument for the Revival of Buddhism” (佛教活論序論, Bukkyō Katsuron Joron) translation, critical apparatus, and introduction, in Sourcebook for Nineteenth Century Buddhism, forthcoming.
  2. Arai Hakuseki 新井白石, excerpt from “Tidings from the West” (西洋記聞, Seiyō Kibun) in A Concise Introduction to World Religions. 3rdedition, Roy C. Amore et al, edt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  3. Yamada Toshiaki 山田利明, various Japanese entries. Encyclopedia of Taoism. Fabrizio Pregadio edt. London: Routledge, 2007.

Recorded Talk:

  • Columbia University 2010: “Heretical Anthropology: The Imagined Buddhisms of Early Modern Japan”