James Harry Morris
James Harry Morris
I was the Digital Orientalist’s Editor for Japan Studies between 2018-2019 and from September 2019 I have been acting as its Editor-in-Chief.
My research focuses on four primary areas:
- Conversion to Christianity in Kirishitan Century (1549-1644CE) Japan.
- Christian-Muslim Relations in East Asia.
- The History of Syriac Christianity and its study in East Asia.
- New Religious Movements.
My doctoral thesis entitled “Rethinking the History of Conversion to Christianity in Japan: 1549-1644,” focused on applying theoretical frameworks from the social sciences to conversion in Japan. Amongst other factors, the thesis suggested that conversion was influenced by political context, the limitations acting upon the missionary enterprise, social networks, and economics. Furthermore, building on the work of Ikuo Higashibaba, I argued that changes to religious practice without epistemological change often constituted conversion for both converts and missionaries.
Outside of my doctoral work, I have primarily focused on Christian-Muslim Relations in China and Japan, and Syriac Christianity and its study in East Asia. This research has resulted in publications in such journals as The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Missiology: An International Review, Oriens Christianus, and Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. The thread that binds these loosely linked research areas in my work is my attempt to reread commonly accepted aspects of East Asian and more specifically Japanese histories, by highlighting new ideas and vantage points, and questioning previously held assumptions. Moreover, my research in each of these areas offers a reformed understanding of Japanese historical chronologies by emphasizing, for example, early encounters between Christianity, Islam, and the Japanese.
My link with the Digital Humanities is still in its infancy, and it is an interest that has developed after realizing that much of my work has been indebted to the work of scholars in the field. I am primarily interested in digital resources that enable myself and others to research and develop associated skills with greater ease, archiving and digitizing texts, and exploring and developing interesting ways that the Digital Humanities may expand the ways that we conduct East Asian studies. I am also interested in finding digital tools that we can use in the classroom.