Fellows & Grantees

Jolyon Thomas

Abe Fellowship 2017
Project Title
Religion, Morality, and Public School Education in Japan and the United States
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award)
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Jolyon Baraka Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a
PhD from Princeton University, an MA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a BA from Grinnell College. His
research covers Japan and the United States in four main topics of inquiry: 1) religion and media; 2) religious
freedom; 3) religion and education; and 4) religion and capitalism. His academic articles on these subjects have
appeared in journals such as the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Material Religion, and Nova Religio, and
he regularly publishes related essays in public- facing venues such as Dharma World, Killing the Buddha, the
Marginalia Review of Books, Nippon.com, The Revealer, Sacred Matters, and Tricycle.
Thomas’s most recent monograph, Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American- Occupied Japan, was
published by University of Chicago Press in 2019. His first book, Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion
in Contemporary Japan, appeared from University of Hawai`i Press in 2012. He is now working on a third book,
tentatively titled Difficult Subjects: Religion and the Politics of Public Schooling in Japan and the United States. He is
also co- editing The New Nanz an Guide to Japanese Religions.