Philip Gant a historian of premodern East Asia; his research focuses on Korean legal and social life over the centuries. His dissertation “Taking Refuge in the Law,” explored the tortuous litigation in which Buddhist monasteries and monastics in Chosŏn Korea (1392-1910) grew increasingly enmeshed to arrive at views of an overlooked religious landscape.
Gant received his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages (HEAL) at Harvard University, and his bachelor’s degree in History and East Asian Studies at Yale College.
From 2017 to 2019, he was a William R. Tyler fellow at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. In the field, he was a summer fellow at the Academy of Korean Studies, and a 2017-2018 visiting student at the Kyujanggak Institute at Seoul National University. A Richard U. Light fellow and a Blakemore Freeman fellow in Seoul, Korea, he was a Greenberg/Yale-China Initiative scholar in Beijing, China, and a Reischauer Institute summer language grantee in Kanazawa and Yokohama, Japan.
Gant is excited to return to Yale, where he will be teaching EAST 404/RLST 359: Faith in the Law in East Asia: Beginnings to 1800.
EAST 404, HIST 305J, RLST 359
Faith in Law in East Asia: Beginnings to 1800
This course investigates law in East Asia from ancient times to 1800 from the perspective of belief. We debate treatises, codes, cases, and cultural products from across East Asia’s legal traditions, tracing the lives they took on. We work to understand firsthand law in its diverse contexts. More fundamentally, we consider the many ways in which people formed beliefs about what “law” might be or do. We examine the philosophical and faith traditions—and the hopes and fears—through which law was articulated, justified, realized, and then immediately contested. Throughout, we ask: What does it mean to invest law with one’s faith? How much of one’s belief is law? How much does law depend on one’s belief? What gave people pause about this over time? You develop your own answers, with an eye toward how all of this has been understood, misunderstood, and appropriated across cultures and time. So the next time you hear an analyst or government official explain something in East Asia as rooted in “a Confucian disdain for law,” or “Japanese ‘Justice,’” (feat. in NYT) you will be equipped to strike up a conversation about just how they arrived at that belief.