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Fuji: A Mountain in the Making

January 30, 2015

While researching a possible book on state regulation of religious property, Associate Professor Andrew Bernstein, a historian of Japan, stumbled upon a passionate conflict: Who owns the summit of Mount Fuji—the state or a Shinto shrine at the base of the mountain?

As he learned more about the economic, political, and religious dimensions of the struggle, Bernstein decided to change course and devote his full scholarly attention to Mount Fuji and its numerous roles in Japanese history.

Andrew BernsteinAndrew BernsteinBernstein is currently on sabbatical to write Fuji: A Mountain in the Making, a multifaceted study of the mountain that he says “crosses conventional boundaries between the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences.” Drawing on fields ranging from geology to art history, it will be the culmination of eight years of research, partly supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Fulbright fellowship.

He hopes the work not only contributes to scholarship in Japanese studies and environmental history, but also demonstrates more broadly the benefits of examining a topic from multiple angles. “When you make connections among actors and processes that are often viewed separately, you reveal the full richness of what you’re studying,” says Bernstein. “That’s what I want my book to convey.”

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