Shamanism and Spirit Possession in Chinese Modernity: Some Preliminary Reflections on a Gendered Religiosity of the Body

Recent fieldwork in rural and small-town Wenzhou reveals that shamans, ritual healers, and spirit mediums have reemerged in the post-Mao era, slowing a long decline that may have started with the ascendancy of Neo-Confucianism in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and that was exacerbated by Maoist-era su...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Main Author: Yang, Mei-hui 1957-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Brill 2015
In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Year: 2015, Volume: 2, Issue: 1, Pages: 51-86
Further subjects:B Spirit Possession
B 巫術
B Shamanism
B Modernity
B 靈媒
B 现代性
B 身體
B the body
B Gender
B 性别
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
Description
Summary:Recent fieldwork in rural and small-town Wenzhou reveals that shamans, ritual healers, and spirit mediums have reemerged in the post-Mao era, slowing a long decline that may have started with the ascendancy of Neo-Confucianism in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and that was exacerbated by Maoist-era suppressions. Unlike the shamanistic cultures of contemporary Taiwan, Fujian, and Chinese ethnic enclaves in Southeast Asia, and what we know of China in late imperial times, most spirit mediums in Wenzhou today are women who do not engage in the bloody and violent public ritual performances found in those areas where male shamans predominate. This article reflects upon four possible explanations for the modern animosity toward shamanism and spirit possession by Chinese officialdom and mainstream Chinese society today. It suggests that the fourth possible explanation, one focusing on the bodily performances and gender of shamans, has not been adequately explored in the study of Chinese shamanism. This fourth explanation deserves attention in any future studies of spirit possession in contemporary China, as it does not treat China as an isolated case of shamanism in the world, but places Chinese shamanism in the larger global context of a shared reconfiguration of the human body in global modernity.
巫術與中國現代性:有関性别與身體宗教性的初步探討
ISSN:2214-3955
Contains:In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/22143955-00201001