Jason Josephson Storm

JJ Josephson-Storm

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm
Professor of Religion,
Chair of Science & Technology Studies

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

  • · 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): “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/STS/SOC/WGSS): “Social Construction
    · REL 308 (STS/SOC/POSCI): “What is Power?
    · REL 316 (STS) : “Social Ontology
    · 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 355 (STS/COMP) : “Michel Foucault: Confessions of the Flesh"
    · 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, History of Social Sciences (including Religious Studies), History of Philosophy, History of Religion, Esotericism (spiritualism, occultism, theosophy, magic, etc).
· Theory: Theories of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Continental Philosophy (esp. Nietzsche, Foucault, Benjamin, and Adorno), Science & Technology Studies, Critical Theory, Sociological Theory (esp. Max Weber).


Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm* received his M.T.S. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University. He has held visiting positions at Princeton University, École Française d’Extrême-Orient in France and Ruhr-Universität and Universität Leipzig in Germany. He has three primary research foci: Japanese Religions, European Intellectual History, and Theory more broadly. Storm sees himself largely as a historian and philosopher of the Human Sciences. 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 in the wake of the collapse of poststructuralism as a guiding paradigm for the Human Sciences.

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 philosophy and Theory more generally. As an undergraduate, he began studying philosophy of science. In graduate school, he was trained in Francophone poststructuralism (with a special attention to the work of Michel Foucault) and East Asian philosophy. He then spent several years marinating in the work of the Frankfurt School (especially Adorno and Benjamin). But he has more recently been working on philosophy of social science. Storm juxtaposes these philosophical movements with contemporary insights from a range of philosophical fields (including critical race and gender theory). In this research he has been focusing on issues relevant to epistemology, virtue ethics, philosophy of language, and the philosophy of science.

This intellectual program has resulted in the monograph, Metamodernism:  The Future of Theory  (University of Chicago Press, 2021), which articulates new research methods for the humanities and social sciences by simultaneously radicalizing and moving past the postmodern turn.

Storm is also working on a further book-length theory manuscript on “Power and Causation,” which provides a novel theory of causation for the human sciences (that necessarily builds on the process social ontology articulated in Metamodernism) and explores its implications for a new theory of power.

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

Selected Publications:


(Audiobook Version)




Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

  1. “Monism and the Religion of Science: How a German New Religious Movement Birthed American Academic Philosophy” Nova Religio, forthcoming.
  2. “Beyond Disenchantment: New Religious Movements and Science & Technology Studies” Special issue Nova Religio, Introduction/Co-edited with Grant Shoffstall, forthcoming.
  3. “A Theosophical Discipline: Revisiting the History of Religious Studies” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, forthcoming.
  4. Revolutionizing the Human SciencesMethod & Theory in the Study of Religion, 2020, 1-7.
  5. “Max Weber and the Rationalization of Magic,” Yelle and Trein edt., Narratives of Disenchantment and Secularization, Bloomsbury, 2020, 31-50.
  6. “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, Equinox, 2020, 23-33.
  7. “Paradoxes of Diversity in Contemporary Japan” in Schilbrack, edt. The WileyBlackwell Companion to Religious Diversity, Blackwell, Forthcoming, 2019.
  8. “The Mystical ‘Occident’ or the Vibrations of Modernity in the Mirror of Japanese Thought,” Rambelli edt., Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan, 2019.
  9. The Superstition, Secularism, and Religion Trinary or Re-Theorizing Secularism Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 30, No.1 (2018), 1-20.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13.  “The Politics of Buddhist Studies in Early Twentieth-Century JapanJapanese Religions, Vol.29, No. 1&2 (2014), 1-9.
  14. “The Invention of Religions in East Asia” in Turner and Salemink edts., The Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia2014.
  15. God’s Shadow: Occluded Possibilities in the Genealogy of ‘Religion’” History of Religions, Vol. 52, No. 4 (May 2013), 309–339.
  16. “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, 2012.
  17. “The Invention of Japanese Religions,” Religion Compass, 2011. 5, 589–597.
  18. “Evil Cults, Monstrous Gods, and the Labyrinth of Delusion: Defining Heresy in Meiji Japan” Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung. 2009. 33, 39–59.
  19. “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.
  20. “When Buddhism Became a “Religion”: Religion and Superstition in the Writings of Inoue Enryō.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 2006, 33/1, 143–68.
    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 Buddhism and Modernity: Sources from Nineteenth-Century Japan, 2021.
    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.
    1. “Darwin, Dharma, and the Divine: Evolutionary Theory and Religion in Modern Japan by Clinton Godart” Review, Monumenta Nipponica, 2020 75(2): 381-384.
    2. “Magic in the Modern World, edited by Edward Bever and Randall Styers” Review. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft,Summer 2018 13(2): 299-302.
    3. “Buddhism, Unitarianism, and the Meiji competition for Universality, by Michel Mohr” Review. H-Shukyo, H-Net Reviews, December 2015, 1-3.
    4. “Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism, edited by Jacqueline Stone and Mariko Walter.” Review. New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 2010, 12(2): 148-50.
    5. “Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System, by Nam-lin Hur.” Review. History of Religions, 2009, 49(2): 206-8.
    6. “Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition, by Judith Snodgrass.” Review. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2005, 12: 80-3.