National Museum of Ethnology “East Eurasian Studies“ Project:
“Religion and Sub-Culture”

At the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) Center for East Eurasian Studies, we aim to reveal how religion and sub-cultures create happiness and culture clashes among people in East Eurasia. The Center is currently focused on hip hop (especially rap music) and we have established “The World Hip Hop Studies” program to conduct international comparative research in this area.

One of the four Global Area Studies projects in the Network-Based Project “Global Area Studies Program” run by the National Institutes for the Humanities, the East Eurasian Studies Project is made up of four project centers: Tohoku University(the main center), Hokkaido University, Kobe University and the National Museum of Ethnology.

The objective of “East Eurasian Studies” is to clarify “culture clashes and well-being in East Eurasia”. The countries and regions of “East Eurasia”, which include Mongolia, Siberia, Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe, formerly belonged to the socialist bloc led by the Soviet Union, while China continues to maintain a socialist political system. At the Minpaku Center for East Eurasian Studies, we will conduct research on the theme of “religion and sub-culture” in the region.

Specifically, we will focus on how religion and sub-culture create hope for people within global relationships in a way that is entirely separate from the political and economic order. One unique aspect of the former socialist bloc is the fact that its first contact with organized religions based outside of the bloc (Islam, Tibetan Buddhism, Catholicism, Evangelicalism etc.) as well as ‘global culture’, in the form of new age ideas and sub-culture from the West, was not until the 1990s.

China also has much in common with the former Soviet Union in that its contact with outside religions and cultures followed the reform and opening up of the country. Against this backdrop of delayed globalization in East Eurasia, and with a focus on the post-Socialist bloc, we will reveal how the new cultures created by people in these regions have generated happiness and culture clashes. We will also draw comparisons with examples from regions other than China and the former Soviet Union.

East Eurasia can be viewed as a juncture of the three zones of Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as various folk religions. Our study examines the culture clashes and forms of well-being which result from the confluence of religions in this region. Our aim is to develop a discussion about the region’s continuity and discontinuity with the socialist era, recognizing the fact that it was formerly part of the socialist bloc.