James Shields

James Shields

Professor of Comparative Humanities and Asian Thought
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About James Shields

James Mark Shields is Professor of Comparative Humanities and Asian Thought and was Inaugural Director of the Humanities Center at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA). He was born and raised in the Maritime province of New Brunswick, Canada, and has ancestral ties to Scotland, Northern Ireland, Spain, and the Philippines. Educated at McGill University (Canada), the University of Cambridge (UK), and Kyoto University (Japan), he conducts research on modern Buddhist thought, Japanese philosophy, comparative ethics and philosophy of religion and teaches courses in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural humanities. He is author of Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought (Ashgate, 2011), Against Harmony: Progressive and Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan (Oxford, 2017), and co-editor of Teaching Buddhism in the West: From the Wheel to the Web (Routledge, 2003), Buddhist Responses to Globalization (Lexington, 2014), and The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics (Oxford, 2018).

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., McGill University (Buddhist Studies/Philosophy of Religion)
  • M.A., McGill University (Philosophy of Religion)
  • M.Phil., University of Cambridge (Social and Political Theory)
  • B.A., McGill University (Anthropology/Political Science)

Teaching Areas

  • Comparative humanities
  • Buddhist thought
  • Japanese philosophy and religion
  • Chinese philosophy and religion
  • Asian and comparative philosophy
  • Sexuality and gender

Selected Publications


The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics, co-edited with Daniel Cozort. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018

Against Harmony: Progressive and Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017

Buddhist Responses to Globalization, co-edited with Leah Kalmanson. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2014

Radical and Revolutionary Buddhism(s) in Thought and Practice, co-edited with Patrice Ladwig. Politics, Religion & Ideology 15, no. 2 (2014)

Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought. Richmond, UK: Ashgate, 2011


“Skeptical Buddhism as Provenance and Project,” in Buddhism and Skepticism: Historical, Philosophical, and Comparative Perspectives, edited by Oren Hanner, 161–177. Hamburg Buddhist Studies, vol. 11, edited by Oren Hanner. Hamburg: Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, 2020.

“Creative Nothingness: Dada as Art, Politics and Religion in Interwar Japan.” Anarchism, a special issue of Modernism/Modernity 27, 3 (2020): 447–466.

“Carrying Buddha into the Streets: Buddhist Socialist Thought in Meiji Japan,” in Dao Companion to Japanese Buddhist Philosophy, edited by Gereon Kopf, 255–285. Dordrecht: Springer, 2019.

“After the Fall; Tsuji Zennosuke and the Creation of Bukkyōshugi kokushi. Journal of Religion in Japan 7.2 (2018): 145–165.

“Buddhist Economics,” in The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics, edited by Daniel Cozort and James Mark Shields, 407–431. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

“Future Perfect: Tolstoy and the Structures of Agrarian Buddhist Utopianism in Taishō Japan.” Engaging Violence: Case Studies from the Japanese Religious Traditions, a special issue of Religions 9, 161 (2018): 1–12.

“The Scope and Limits of Secular Buddhism: Watanabe Kaikyoku (1868–1912) and the Japanese New Buddhist ‘Discovery of Society’.” In Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, edited by Hannah Havnevik, et al., 15–32. London: Routledge, 2017.

“Immanent Frames: Meiji New Buddhism and the ‘Religious Secular’.” Japan Review: Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies 30 (2017): 79–96.

“Peasant Revolts as Anti-authoritarian Archetypes for Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan.” Journal of Religion in Japan 5, 1 (2016): 3–21.

“Opium Eaters: Buddhism as Revolutionary Politics.” In Buddhism and the Political Process, edited by Hiroko Kawanami, 213–234. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Further Information

Contact Details


106 Coleman Hall