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Starling awarded competitive NEH Fellowship

January 14, 2020

  • Dr. Jessica Starling

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Jessica Starling has been awarded a 12-month research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for her project, “Leprosy and Religion in Modern Japan”. This fellowship will enable Dr. Starling to spend her 2020-21 post-tenure sabbatical conducting research and beginning work on a monograph about the social work of contemporary Buddhists in Japan. Her focus is on Buddhist volunteers who work to redress the past and present stigma against those diagnosed with leprosy (also known as Hansen’s Disease). Dr. Starling’s informants work both inside and outside of Buddhist institutional contexts, and her project will include several months of ethnographic research in Asia, visiting leprosaria in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Dr. Starling’s scholarship brings recent insights from moral anthropology into conversation with contemporary Buddhist practice. Her articles and monograph on this subject, which will join a growing body of literature at the intersection of Buddhism and medicine and Buddhism and modernity, will also be of interest to general audiences interested in contemporary Buddhist practices and postwar Japanese ethics and culture.

Starling’s award was one of just three NEH Fellowships awarded in Oregon during this competition. It is also worth noting that this award is Dr. Starling’s eighth successful grant application since she arrived at Lewis & Clark in the fall of 2013. This project builds on and expands earlier work supported by the Association for Asian Studies/Northeast Asia Council, an NEH Summer Stipend, and the American Academy of Religion.

January 2020

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