I’ve just submitted the following paper proposal for consideration at the International Studies Association‘s next annual convention to be held in San Francisco in April 2024. After dealing with COVID-19, health, type 2 diabetes, and autism impacts, if accepted this will be my first public talk about my 2020 Monash University PhD (also see my PhD document archive) and some of the current debates on Japan’s new religious movement Aum Shinrikyo. We’ll see if it gets up!
Aum Shinrikyo’s Relational Afterlives
On 20th March 1995, Japan’s new religious movement Aum Shinrikyo conducted a sarin gas ‘surprise attack’ on Tokyo’s commuter subway system. This proposal makes an original contribution through the study of how Aum Shinrikyo’s internal strategic subculture – its organizational mechanisms that facilitated and prioritised the terrorist use of force against government and civilian targets – grew as a trajectory with Japan’s asset price bubble (1986-91) and the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1990-91. Despite Japan’s execution of its founder and former leader Shoko Asahara on 6th July 2018, Aum Shinrikyo continues to exist in relational afterlives, such as in the Twitter commentary of independent researcher Sarah Hightower (@nezumi_ningen); James Cox‘s novel Roppongi, Andrew Fox’s Promethean Terrorists framework, Erica Baffelli‘s study of former Aum renunciates, and the growing undercurrents of Amazon Kindle Publishing ebooks. I consider ideological parallels to the Dissident Right’s metapolitical thinkers in the United States, and for the policy implementation of the Biden Administration’s U.S. National Strategy To Counter Antisemitism released in May 2023. In particular, I address risk factors for identifying how violent extremist radicalisation and recruitment occurs in ideologically-motivated religious subcultures, and the internet’s critical role.