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K-State Today

April 24, 2023

K-State anthropology professor wins National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend for book project

Submitted by Marcia Locke

Dr. Jessica Falcone poses with friends in front of altar

Jessica Falcone, professor of anthropology in the department of sociology, anthropology and social work at Kansas State University, has won a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend of $6,000 to support two months of intensive writing.

"This award will allow me to make substantive progress on my second book, 'Temple of Great Happiness: a Soto Zen Community in Hawai'i,'" said Falcone.

Falcone's book project addresses contemporary Zen Buddhist religious and social life in Hawaii. It focuses on the evolving cultural practices of the Soto-Shu Zen congregation in Honalo, known as the Daifukuji Soto Mission. The mission is 100 years old and increasingly comprised of a unique mix of heritage and non-heritage practitioners.

"This story of the Daifukuji is an important example of America's ever-changing religious landscape," Falcone said. "The community held strong against racism perpetrated toward Japanese immigrants during World War II, and even with its current membership flux, the temple remains an inclusive, mixed-heritage community that celebrates its roots."

"We are very excited that Professor Falcone has been awarded an NEH Summer Stipend," said Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research. "This is a very competitive award in the humanities."

"With this award, I'll get to focus on the chapter that addresses performance cultures at the temple," Falcone said. "For example, this Buddhist sect integrated Christian-influenced organ music into services while writing hymns to the Buddha."

Falcone specializes in South Asian and religious studies as well as anthropology of diaspora, transnationalism, futurity/temporality, globalization, and material culture and gift exchange. Her first book was "Battling the Buddha of Love: A Cultural Biography of the Greatest Statue Never Built," published in 2018 by Cornell University Press.

The anthropology program in K-State's College of Arts and Sciences raises awareness of cultural diversity, the relationships between human biology and culture, humanity's commonalities and shared past, and the continued influence of the past on people's lives. Available through the program, and co-directed by Falcone, is a Religious Studies Certificate, one of several interdisciplinary certificates offered in anthropology.

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