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The Zichu by Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672)
In Chinese Character Manipulation in Literature and Divination, Anne Schmiedl analyses the little-studied method of Chinese character manipulation as found in imperial sources. Focusing on one of the most famous and important works on this subject, the Zichu by Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672), Schmiedl traces and discusses the historical development and linguistic properties of this method. This book represents the first thorough study of the Zichu and the reader is invited to explore how, on the one hand, the educated elite leveraged character manipulation as a literary play form. On the other hand, as detailed exhaustively by Schmiedl, practitioners of divination also used and altered the visual, phonetic, and semantic structure of Chinese characters to gain insights into events and objects in the material world.
Comparative Remarks on Tibetan Dice and Mālā Divination: Tools, Poetry, Structures, and Ritual Dimensions
Divining with Achi and Tārā is a book on Tibetan methods of prognostics with dice and prayer beads ( mālā). Jan-Ulrich Sobisch offers a thorough discussion of Chinese, Indian, Turkic, and Tibetan traditions of divination, its techniques, rituals, tools, and poetic language. Interviews with Tibetan masters of divination introduce the main part with a translation of a dice divination manual of the deity Achi that is still part of a living tradition. Solvej Nielsen contributes further interviews, a mālā divination of Tārā and its oral tradition, and very useful glossaries of the terminology of Tibetan divination and fortune telling. Appendices provide lists of deities and spirits and of numerous identified ritual remedies and supports that are an essential element of a still vibrant Tibetan culture.
Scriptural Shamanism in Southwestern China
In Masters of Psalmody (bimo ) Aurélie Névot analyses the religious, political and theoretical issues of a scriptural shamanism observed in southwestern China among the Yi-Sani. Her focus is on blood sacrifices and chants based on a secret and labile writing handled only by ritualists called bimo.

Through ethnographic data, the author presents the still little known bimo metaphysics and unravels the complexity of the local text-based ritual system in which the continuity of each bimo lineage relies on the transmission of manuscripts whose writing relates to lineage blood. While illuminating the usages of this shamanistic tradition that is characterized by scriptural variability between patrilineages, Aurélie Névot highlights the radical changes it is undergoing by becoming a Chinese state tradition.
Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia
The Mission of Development interrogates the complex relationships between Christian mission and international development in Asia from the 19th century to the new millennium. Through historically and ethnographically grounded case studies, contributors examine how missionaries have adapted to and shaped the age of development and processes of ‘technocratisation’, as well as how mission and development have sometimes come to be cast in opposition. The volume takes up an increasingly prominent strand in contemporary research that reverses the prior occlusion of the entanglements between religion and development. It breaks new ground through its analysis of the techno-politics of both development and mission, and by focusing on the importance of engagements and encounters in the field in Asia.
In this book Sita van Bemmelen offers an account of changes in Toba Batak society (Sumatra, Indonesia) due to Christianity and Dutch colonial rule (1861-1942) with a focus on customs and customary law related to the life cycle and gender relations. The first part, a historical ethnography, describes them as they existed at the onset of colonial rule. The second part zooms in on the negotiations between the Toba Batak elite, the missionaries of the German Rhenish Mission and colonial administrators about these customs showing the evolving views on desirable modernity of each contestant. The pillars of the Toba patrilineal kinship system were challenged, but alterations changed the way it was reproduced and gender relations for ever.
Situating Scriptural Practices
The Materiality and Efficacy of Balinese Letters examines traditional uses of writing on the Indonesian island of Bali, focusing on the power attributed to Balinese script.The approach is interdisciplinary and comparative, bringing together insights from anthropological and philological perspectives. Scholars have long recognized a gap between the practices of philological interpretation and those of the Javano-Balinese textual tradition. The question is what impact this gap should have on our conception of ‘the text’. Of what relevance, for example, are the uses to which Balinese script has been put in the context of ceremonial rites? What ideas of materiality, power and agency are at work in the production and preservation of palm-leaf manuscripts, inscribed amulets and other script-bearing instruments?
Contributors include: Andrea Acri, Helen Creese, Richard Fox, H.I.R. Hinzler, Annette Hornbacher, Thomas M. Hunter and Margaret Wiener.
Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond explores ghost movies, one of the most popular film genres in East and Southeast Asia, by focusing on movie narratives, the cultural contexts of their origins and audience reception.

In the middle of the Asian crisis of the late 1990s, ghost movies became major box office hits. The emergence of the phenomenally popular “J-Horror” genre inspired similar ghost movie productions in Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore. Ghost movies are embedded and reflected in national as well as transnational cultures and politics, in narrative traditions, in the social worlds of the audience, and in the perceptual experience of each individual. They reflect upon the identity crises and traumas of the living as well as of the dead, and they unfold affection and attraction in the border zone between amusement and thrill, secular and religious worldviews. This makes the genre interesting not only for sociologists, anthropologists, media and film scholars, but also for scholars of religion.
In: The Materiality and Efficacy of Balinese Letters
In: The Materiality and Efficacy of Balinese Letters