Levi McLaughlin

Picture of Levi McLaughlin

Assistant Professor


Levi McLaughlin is Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at North Carolina State University, where he teaches courses on religion in Asia. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University after previous study at the University of Tokyo, and he holds a B.A. and M.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto. He has worked as a research assistant at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo and was a visiting research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Iowa.

Levi's research focuses primarily on religion in modern and contemporary Japan and considers what Japanese religions tell us about how religious institutions, doctrines, practices, and dispositions take shape in the contexts of politics, education, and other spheres. Levi is the first non-member, non-Japanese researcher to spend years as a participant observer of Soka Gakkai, Japan's largest new religious movement, and his publications and presentations to date have centered on grassroots-level experiences of Soka Gakkai members in Japan and how this organization challenges widely accepted parameters of "religion." Levi's most recent scholarship investigates political activism by Soka Gakkai members and ways the category "religion" has transformed after religious responses to the compound disasters in Japan of March 11, 2011.

Articles and book chapters by Levi appear in English and Japanese in The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Sekai, the Social Science Japan Journal, and other publications. Levi is co-author and co-editor of Kōmeitō: Politics and Religion in Japan (IEAS Berkeley, 2014), co-editor of the special issue Salvage and Salvation: Religion and Disaster Relief in Asia (Asian Ethnology, June 2016), and is currently completing a book on Soka Gakkai in Japan.

Teaching and Research Interests

Asian religions (particularly traditions of Japan and China), history of modern Asia, theories and methodologies of the study of religion, religion and politics in Asia, Buddhism, anthropology of religion, fieldwork methodology, and religion and development.

Further details can be found at http://ncsu.academia.edu/LeviMcLaughlin/About


  • Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University, 2009
  • M.A. in East Asian Studies from University of Toronto, 1998
  • B.A. in Japanese Studies from University of Toronto, 1996