Julia Heather Cross F'20

Julia Heather Cross
Doctoral Candidate
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies 2020
Doctoral Candidate
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University
Relic Theft and Sacred Space in Medieval Japan

My dissertation examines Buddha relic worship in 13th and 14th century Japan. This period marks the first instance of relics magically appearing at Japanese temples and nunneries in vast numbers. Such appearances, I argue, helped to create a new and differently gendered religious geography by linking certain landscapes and peoples—e.g., nunneries, female monastics, and female courtiers—to this world of real and imagined relics. This change empowered certain nuns in ways that were almost unheard of while granting more peripheral temples and female monastics a promise of salvation. My multi-sited research uncovers this history through the study of chronicles, records, literary narratives, and surviving reliquaries and art surrounding relics at three temples: Hokkeji, Saidaiji, and Muroji.