Helen Hardacre

Helen Hardacre

Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society
On Leave 2022-23
Helen Hardacre

Professor Helen Hardacre began the study of Japanese religions as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, and she earned her doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1980, studying with Professor Joseph Kitagawa. Her research on religion focuses on the manner in which traditional doctrines and rituals are transformed and adapted in contemporary life. Concentrating on Japanese religious history of the modern period, she has done extended field study of contemporary Shinto, Buddhist religious organizations and the religious life of Japan's Korean minority. She has also researched State Shinto and contemporary ritualizations of abortion. From 1980 to 1989, Professor Hardacre taught at Princeton University's Department of Religion, and from 1990 she taught two years in the School of Modern Asian Studies, Griffith University (Australia). She came to Harvard in 1992. Her publications include The Religion of Japan's Korean Minority (Berkeley, 1984), Lay Buddhism in Contemporary Japan: Reiyukai Kyodan (Princeton, 1984), Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan (Princeton, 1986), Shinto and the State, 1868-1988 (Princeton, 1989), Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (Berkeley, 1997), which won the Arisawa Hiromichi Prize, and Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan: A Study of the Southern Kanto Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazetteers (Michigan, 2002). Her current research centers on the issue of constitutional revision and its effect on religious groups. Hardacre was awarded a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, and awarded the Order of the Rising Sun 3rd Class Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Government of Japan in 2018. Hardacre's most recent monograph is Shinto: A History (Oxford, 2016), a comprehensive study of Shinto from ancient Japan to the present.

Contact Information

CGIS South Bldg. S239
p: (617) 496-5844


Faculty Area