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Jin Y. Park

Associate Professor Department of Philosophy and Religion

Additional Positions at AU

Jin Y. Park is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Founding Director of Asian Studies Program at American University. Park specializes in East Asian Buddhism (especially Zen and Huayan Buddhism), postmodernism, deconstruction, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist philosophy of religion, Buddhist-postmodern comparative philosophy, and modern East Asian philosophy. Park’s research in Buddhism focuses on the Zen and Huayan schools of East Asian Buddhism on language, violence, and ethics. In her comparative study, Park reads Zen and Huayan Buddhism together with postmodern thought in Continental philosophy. Park also has a keen interest in modern East Asian philosophy. How the power imbalance between the East and the West played a role in the construction of modern East Asian philosophy; how traditional Asian thought became reformulated in the context of Western philosophy in modern East Asia; and how such reformulation informs us about the current position of Asian philosophy both in the Western and Asian academia, are some of major issues under investigation. Park's recent publication, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun, is a translation of a book published in Korean in 1960 by Kim Iryŏp (1896-1971), a writer, first-generation Korean feminist, Buddhist nun, and philosopher. In this book, Kim Iryŏp offers a creative interpretation of Buddhist philosophy and practice. She does so by incorporating her own life stories into her discussion of Buddhist philosophy. These stories focus on the lives and deaths of her family members, the practice of Christianity, the relationships between humans and God and between heaven and hell, the meaning of the Buddha, and her intimate relationships with her romantic ex-partners. These diverse topics, along with Kim Iryŏp’s unique way of delivering Buddhist philosophy, mark her book as an alternative form of doing philosophy and of understanding Buddhism in the milieu of daily existence. Buddhism and Postmodernity: Zen, Huayan, and the Possibility of Buddhist-Postmodern Ethics (2008), discusses Buddhism and continental philosophy on the topics of, among others, self, language, and violence. In this book, Park offers the "ethics of tension" as a potential ethical paradigm drawn from Buddhism and postmodern philosophy. Park is also the editor of volumes: Buddhisms and Deconstructions (2006), Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism (co-edited, 2009), Comparative Political Theory and Cross-Cultural Philosophy (2009), and Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (2010). In her forthcoming book, Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging with Zen Master Kim Iryop, Park offers a full discussion of Kim Iryŏp’s life and philosophy. On the surface, the book takes a biographical format, discussing Kim Iryŏp’s life and philosophy chronologically. At another level, Women and Buddhist Philosophy deals with how we construct identity, meaning, and values from our seemingly mundane life experiences. At another level, this book is an effort to demonstrate how women’s ways of doing philosophy can take different forms than the familiar, patriarchal way of doing philosophy. Park identifies this mode of philosophizing as a “narrative philosophy”—a philosophy deeply engaged with the narrative discourse of our daily experiences instead of heavily relying on theorization and abstraction. Women and Buddhist Philosophy is another occasion to examine the issues of power, violence, and the logic of exclusion, the topics Park explored in her earlier book, Buddhism and Postmodernity. The relative exclusion of women in patriarchal society and the marginalization of nuns in the patriarchal Buddhist community are paradigmatic of how the logic of power, violence, and exclusion dominate our daily existence. In academic philosophy, the position of Buddhist philosophy has also suffered due to this logic, as in Western philosophical academia, non-Western philosophies have had difficulty even being considered philosophy. Some of my publications can found at: Park is Founding Co-Director of International Society for Buddhist Philosophy. She is an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion and also serves on its Program Committee. Park is also an At-Large Director of the North American Korean Philosophy Association. Park is a recipient of several privileged grants and fellowships.


PhD, SUNY Stony Brook; MA, New York University; MA, Yonsei University; BA, Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea)

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CAS - Philosophy and Religion
Battelle Tompkins - 115
Thurs 2pm-4pm
Contact Info
(202) 885-2919 (Office)
(202) 885-1094 (Fax)

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See Also
Department of Philosophy and Religion

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging with Zen Master Kim Iryop (forthcoming)
  • Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun: Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryop (trans. 2014)
  • Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (ed., 2010)   
  • Comparative Political Theory and Cross-Cultural Philosophy (ed., 2009)   
  • Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism (co-ed., 2009)   
  • Buddhism and Postmodernity: Zen, Huayan, and the Possibility of Buddhist Postmodern Ethics (2008)   
  •  Buddhisms and Deconstructions (ed., 2006)  

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Academy of Korean Studies, Laboratory for the Globalization of Korean Studies, Co-Researcher, on the project "Traces of Reason: The Korean Approach to Logic and Rationality and Its RElation to Buddhist Traditions from India and China"
  • Mellon Fellowship
  • American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant
  • Korea Foundation Advanced Research Grant
  • Academy of Korean Studies, Translation of Korean Buddhism Grant
  • Korea University, International Center for Korean Studies, Korean Studies Publication Series Grant