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Dr. Katja Triplett

Senior Research Fellow

(present May - November 2017)

Areas of Interest

  • Religion and the sciences
  • Religions and philosophical systems of Japan and China
  • East Asian Buddhism
  • Buddhism in (modern) Turkey
  • Religious visual representations and material culture
  • Pilgrimage

Research project: Buddhism and Medicine in Pre-modern Japan and Beyond

In early and medieval Japan, secularity as a modality of making distinctions was connected to the question of boundary demarcation between Chinese-style cultural techniques including medicine, and complex traditions usually classified as religious such as Daoism, Buddhism and Shintō. A closer look at the emic discourses reveals a dynamic and also contested situation of boundary demarcation activity in regard to religion and medicine. This study approaches the state policies implemented to incorporate newly introduced religious and medical traditions according to Soysal’s “collective cognitive map” theory (1994). Proponents of the ruling elite in Japan interpreted classifications of religion and other spheres from a different framework from outside of Japan in specific ways, based on their institutional ancestral clan organization. After Buddhism emerged as a powerful incorporation regime of its own and served subsequently as a collective cognitive map, the new influx of ideas and practices from Europe, European colonies in Asia and from China and Korea in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries not only stimulated the intra-cultural boundary demarcation regarding religion and medicine but also inter-cultural boundary negotiations in the case of direct encounters between Europeans, Japanese Christian converts, Buddhists and Neo-Confucian officials. The study of emic boundary demarcation will be focused in particular on the controversial politician and Buddhist lay teacher Soshin (1588-1675) who wrote about a new social order as well as medical healing.



Sessional Lecturer, Institute for Theology and the Study of Religions, Leibniz University Hannover

Fellow, Center for Modern East Asian Studies (CeMEAS), University of Göttingen (Germany)

2012 – 2016

Contigent Professor for the Study of Religions (East Asian Religions), Department for East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen (Germany)

2006 – 2012

Senior Lecturer, Department for the Study of Religions, Marburg University (Germany)

2005 – 2012

Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, SOAS, University of London (UK)

2009 – 2010

Deputy Professor for East Asian Religion and Philosophy, Department for Asian Studies, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Munich (Germany)


Deputy Professor for the Study of Religions, Marburg University (Germany)

​2004 – 2005

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions (CSJR), School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (UK)

​2002 – 2004

PhD (Dr. phil.), Department for the Study of Religions, Marburg University (Germany)

Relevant Publications

  • Triplett, Katja. “Using the Golden Needle: Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva's Ophthalmological Treatise and Other Sources in the Essentials of Medical Treatment.” In Buddhism and Medicine: An Anthology. Edited by Pierce Salguero, 543–48. New York: Columbia University Press, in print (2017).
  • Triplett, Katja. “Wissen und Wunder: ‘Erleuchtung’ und das Bild des asiatischen Buddhismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert.” In Erleuchtung. Kultur- und Religionsgeschichte eines Begriffs. Edited by Almut-Barbara Renger, 367–95. Freiburg: Herder, 2016.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Medizinisches Wissen des tibetischen Buddhismus in Bewegung.” Paragrana, 25/1 (2016): 281–95.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Buddhist Superman. Imagination und Bild im buddhistischen Diskurs des japanischen Mittelalters am Beispiel der narrativen Bildrolle über den Heiligen Hōnen.” In Religion – Imagination – Ästhetik. Vorstellungs- und Sinneswelten in Religion und Kultur. Edited by Lucia Traut and Annette Wilke, 351–81. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.
  • Triplett, Katja. “For Mothers and Sisters: Care of the Reproductive Female Body in the Medico-ritual World of Early and Medieval Japan.” Dynamis 34/2 (2014): 337–56.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Soziales Engagement ausgewählter buddhistischer Organisationen aus Japan, Vietnam und Thailand als Antwort auf Prozesse der Modernisierung.” In Religion und Politik im gegenwärtigen Asien: Konvergenzen und Divergenzen. Edited by Edith Franke and Katja Triplett, 117–40. Münster: Lit, 2013.
  • Triplett, Katja and Edith Franke. “Konvergenzen und Divergenzen religiöser und politischer Systeme im gegenwärtigen Asien.” In Religion und Politik im gegenwärtigen Asien: Konvergenzen und Divergenzen. Edited by Edith Franke and Katja Triplett, 5–11. Münster: Lit, 2013.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Healing Rituals in Contemporary Japanese Esoteric Buddhism as Acts of Individual and Collective Purification.” In Purification: Religious Transformations of Body and Mind. Edited by Gerhard Marcel Martin and Katja Triplett, 107–17. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
  • Triplett, Katja and Gerhard Marcel Martin (eds.). Purification: Religious Transformations of Body and Mind. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
  • Triplett, Katja and Christoph Kleine (eds.). Special Issue: Religion and Healing in Japan, Japanese Religions 37/1&2 (2012).
  • Triplett, Katja. “Magical Medicine? – Japanese Buddhist Medical Knowledge and Ritual Instruction for Healing the Physical Body.” Japanese Religions, 37/1&2 (2012): 63–92.
  • Triplett, Katja, Alexandra Grieser, and Adrian Hermann. “Museality as a Matrix of the Production, Reception, and Circulation of Knowledge Concerning Religion.” Journal of Religion in Europe, 4/1 (2011): 40–70.
  • Triplett, Katja, Lucia Dolce, and Gil Raz (eds.). “Section II: Ritual Discourse, Ritual Performance in China and Japan.” In Grammars and Morphologies of Ritual Practices in Asia (=Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual; Vol. 1). Edited by Axel Michaels et al., 355–578. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010.
  • Triplett, Katja.“’Religionsfreiheit’ und die religiöse Vielfalt Japans.” In Interreligiöse Verständigung zu Glaubensverbreitung und Religionswechsel. Edited. by Christoph Elsas, 256–59. Berlin: EB Verlag, 2010.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Esoteric Buddhist eye-healing rituals in Japan and the promotion of benefits.” In Grammars and Morphologies of Ritual Practices in Asia (=Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual; Vol. 1). Edited by Axel Michaels et al., 485–97. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Japanese religionists.” Religions in Focus. Edited by Graham Harvey, 195–215 London: Equinox, 2009.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Zwischen Bürgerpflicht und Widerstand: Buddhismus und religionsinterne Kritik in der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam.” In Religionsinterne Kritik und religiöser Pluralismus im gegenwärtigen Südostasien. Edited by Manfred Hutter, 65–81. Frankfurt am Main et al: Peter Lang, 2008.
  • Triplett, Katja. Streben nach Glück. Schicksalsdeutung und Lebensgestaltung in japanischen Religionen. Münster et al.: Lit-Verlag, 2007.
  • Triplett, Katja. “Buddhist pilgrimage.” In Pilgrims and Pilgrimage: Journey, Spirituality and Daily Life through the Centuries. Edited by Dee Dyas, virtual pages (CD-ROM publication), Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York & St John’s College, Nottingham, 2006.
  • Triplett, Katja. Menschenopfer und Selbstopfer in den japanischen Legenden. Das Frankfurter Manuskript der Matsura Sayohime-Legende. Münster [et al.]: Lit-Verlag, 2004.