Bo Tao is a scholar of the social and religious history of modern Japan. He is particularly interested in the role of Christians as political actors, both within the context of the Japanese domestic and imperial landscape, as well as in transnational circuits of religious exchange and cultural discourse during the twentieth century.
He is currently revising his dissertation, “Imperial Pacifism: Kagawa Toyohiko and Christianity in the Asia-Pacific War,” into a book manuscript (tentatively titled, The Christian Empires of Kagawa). The main goal of the book project is to illustrate the three seemingly distinct fields of religious and political activity that were tied together through the figure of Kagawa: (1) Christianity in Japan and its overseas diaspora and imperial territories; (2) the dense networks of Protestant Christian internationalists who supported and relied upon Kagawa’s image and influence as the so-called “Gandhi of Japan” to advance their missionary work; and (3) the project of postwar reconstruction under the Allied Occupation (1945-1952), during which Japan fell under the political and religious influence of the United States.
Bo Tao is also interested in Asian American studies and in using his background to promote constructive dialogue between the fields of Japan/East Asian history and Asian American/U.S. history. His work on Kagawa offers a potentially useful case study in this regard, by illustrating the formation of transpacific networks of religious and cultural exchange between Japanese Christians, white American missionaries, and Japanese American communities in Hawai’i and the U.S. West Coast.
He has sought to use newly emerging digital tools and platforms to demonstrate this aspect of his work.