BA: St. Lawrence University
MA: McMaster University
PhD: Columbia University
Fall 2021: Intro to Major Topics: East Asia – Religious Landscapes of East Asia
Spring 2022: East Asian Religion: Women in Buddhism
Japanese Religions, Religious Transmission, Religious Amalgamation, Silk Road Studies
Abigail MacBain is a history of religion scholar specializing in Japanese religions and Buddhist transmission. She received her PhD from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in 2021. Her dissertation titled “Precepts and Performances: Overseas Monks and the Emergence of Cosmopolitan Japan” focused on the arrivals of several Buddhist monks from various parts of the Asian mainland to Japan in the mid-eighth century and their influence on the religious, cultural, and political affairs of the period. Her current research looks at the role that state protection scriptures and deities played in Buddhism’s spread throughout East Asia. She is also looking at how religion-adjacent material cultural such as musical instruments and artistic motifs contributed to the early Japanese court’s awareness of other peoples, countries, and cultures. Her research has been supported by grants from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Blakemore Foundation, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the U.S. Department of Education via the Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship.