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Department of Social Anthropology



For undergraduate, Francisco Ngo studied cultural anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He completed undergraduate fieldwork in Kobe, Japan, on the missionary efforts of Opus Dei, a Roman Catholic institution, and explored questions of secularism, boundary/categorical transgression, and the concept of "culture" in Roman Catholic discourse. Afterwards, he spent 5 years in Japan where he taught on the JET program, earned his master's at Sophia University in Tokyo, and worked at a few interesting companies. For Ngo's PhD work, he returns to the Opus Dei as a researcher but with interest in other questions of ethics, labor, religious hierarchy, and ontology.


I am interested in the conversation among several anthropologies that come together in my research topic on Roman Catholicism in Japan. I investigate how a particular Catholic group builds a new hermeneutic of labor through ritual and ethical reflection to imbed religious meaning into work and everyday life. As the population of Japan is vastly non-Christian, the introduction of this hermeneutic also entails a change of values and in turn the ethical conundrums that follow. Theoretically, I pursue the ontological, affective, and post-secular turns in anthropology and religious studies to analyze how labor can mitigate supposed inconsistencies of as Roman Catholicism as described as Carl Schmitt.


Key publications: 

Ngo, Hoa Francisco. 2015. Between Religion and Culture: An Opus Dei Mission in Japan. In Japan Missions Journal 69(4), 250-254

Research Title: Labour, Life, and the Lord: Opus Dei in Kyoto
Supervisor: Professor James Laidlaw

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