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Spring 2020: A Voyage of Discovery
Senior Research Fellow

Brian Victoria

Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

Brian Victoria is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and a 1961 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University. He currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, a recognized independent Centre of the University of Oxford.

Brian’s first study abroad experience was as an undergraduate, spending a Junior Year Abroad studying in Denmark. It was there that Brian encountered what were then such “radical ideas” (at least in the US) as universal healthcare as one component of “democratic socialism.” Not only did Brian’s thinking undergo significant changes through immersing himself in a foreign culture, but even more importantly, he realized how crucially important it was for Americans to view the US from the “outside,” i.e., as others view our country.

In the intervening years, Brian’s awareness and appreciation for foreign cultures and peoples has only increased as a result of having taught at the tertiary level not only in the US but also in Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Brian is now a citizen of three of these countries and a permanent resident of the fourth. He also plans to become a citizen of Mexico, his father’s homeland.

From 2005 to 2013 Brian served as the Director of Antioch University’s, AEA-sponsored, “Buddhist Studies in Japan” program, headquartered in Kyoto, a city that has now become his second home. Brian’s program featured such experiences as living in a Zen monastery with students getting up at 3:30 am to meditate, followed by a breakfast of rice gruel and tea before beginning a rigorous day of academic classes. Brian very much looks forward to introducing SAS students to Kyoto, and Japan’s cultural riches during our stop in Kobe (albeit without the 3:30 am wake-up calls).

Brian’s major writings include Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); an autobiographical work in Japanese titled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest), published by San-ichi Shobo in 1971; Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Prof. Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill, 1976); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill, 1972). Brian’s latest book, Zen Terror in Prewar Japan, will be published on February 14, 2020. Additionally, many of Brian’s articles are available at the website of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus at: