Joseph M. Kitagawa

Joseph M. Kitagawa was Dean of the Divinity School from 1970 to 1980.

His work helped establish what has been called the ''Chicago School'' of History of Religions. It has emphasized critical comparative study of religious phenomena as such, rather than as a part of another discipline such as sociology or psychology.

Born in Japan, he came to the United States in early 1941 as a seminary student. Within a year, war was declared and he was interned in an American detention camp for people of Japanese ancestry.  During the three and a half years he spent in detention camps, he was ordained an Episcopal priest and did ministry work among his fellow detainees.

He earned his PhD in 1951 at The Divinity School in the field of history of religions, under the guidance of Professor Joachim Wach, with a dissertation entitled “K6-b6-Daishi and Shingon Buddhism." He joined the faculty that same year, retiring in 1985.  Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, he held a joint appointment in what was then the Department of Far Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

Guide to the Kitagawa papers in the University of Chicago Library: