About James Harry Morris

From 2018-2019 I have been involved with the Digital Orientalist as its Editor for Japan Studies. From September 2019, I am acting as Editor-in-Chief.

My research focuses on three primary areas:

  1. Conversion to Christianity in Kirishitan Century (1549-1644CE) Japan.
  2. Christian-Muslim Relations in East Asia.
  3. The History of Syriac Christianity and its study in East Asia.

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.


Select Publications


  1. 2018 “Anti-Kirishitan Surveillance in Early Modern Japan,” Surveillance and Society, 16, No. 4, pp. 410-431. Also available here.
  2. 2018 “The Case for Christian Missionary Activity in Japan prior to the 16th Century, Part II: Evidence of the Earliest Encounter with Abrahamic Religions in Japan – Religious Encounters in Yuán-Kamakura Relations,” Oriens Christianus, 100, pp. 153-187.
  3. 2018 “China, Japan, and Christian Emissaries to Muslim Lands,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 29, No. 2, pp. 167-191.
  4. 2018 “Christian-Muslim Relations in China and Japan in the 16th and early 17th Centuries,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 29, No. 1, 37-55.
  5. 2017 “Rereading the evidence of the earliest Christian communities in East Asia during and prior to the Táng Period,” Missiology: An International Review, 45, No. 3, pp. 252-264.
  6. 2017 “The Figures of Kōho and Li-mi-i, and the origins of the case for a Christian missionary presence in Tenpyō Era Japan,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27, No. 2, pp. 313-323.
  7. 2017 “The Kirishitan Century in Tōhoku,” Fukushima Kōsen Kenkyū Kiyō, 58, pp. 137-144. Also available here.
  8. 2016 “The Legacy of Peter Yoshirō Saeki: Evidence of Christianity in Japan before the arrival of Europeans,” The Journal of Academic Perspectives, 2016, No. 2, pp. 1-22. Also available here.
  9. 2015 “Christianity, Martyrdom, and Pilgrimage in Ōkago Village,” Japan Mission Journal, 69, No. 3, pp. 206-216.Also available here.
  10. 2015 “‘Lost’ Letters: The Presence of Jǐngjiào in Japan as explored by Sakae Ikeda,” Japan Mission Journal, 69, No. 4, pp. 255-266. Also available here.

Book Chapters

  1. 2016 In Thomas, D. and Chesworth, J., eds.Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900, Volume 11. Leiden: Brill Publishers.
    • “Diego de Pantoja,” pp. 291-296.
    • “Matteo Ricci,” pp. 301-305.
    • “Nicolas Trigault,”pp. 313-320.
    • “The Jesuits in 17th-Century Japan,” pp. 332-338.
    • “Alvaro de Semedo,” pp. 351-355.
    • “Johann Adam Schall,” pp. 377-381.
    • “Yang Guangxian,”pp. 382-389.
    • “Lodovico Buglio,” pp. 393-399.
    • “Ferdinand Verbiest,” pp. 425-431.
    • “Jesuits and Muslims in 17th-Century China,” pp. 432-441.
    • “Roman Catholic orders in 17th-Century China,” pp. 446-460.
  1. 2015 In Mosher, L., Wingate, A., and Raja, J., eds.Relating with Hindu Diaspora: Anglican and Lutheran Reflections.London:Anglican Interfaith Networks, Lutheran Porvoo Communion, and World Council of Churches, 2015. Available here.
    • “The Problem of Understanding Conversion: Religious Change and Interfaith Dialogue,” pp. 22-25.


Online presence

Read more: http://tsukuba.academia.edu/JamesMorris

Follow me: https://twitter.com/jhmorris89