Re-enchanting Modernity: Sovereignty, Ritual Economy, and Indigenous Civil Society in Coastal China
UC Santa Barbara
Re-enchanting Modernity: Sovereignty, Ritual Economy, and Indigenous Civil Society in Coastal China. Based on fieldwork in rural southeast China, from 1991 to 2010. The book examines the resurgence of ritual and religious life in post-Mao China. Local residents have constructed alternative cultural discourses, social memories and organizations and ritual practices that diverge from the centralized state’s project of secular modernity. It investigate lineages and ancestor rituals, deity myths and temples, ritual processions, Daoist and Buddhist temples, Catholic and Protestant churches, funerals and community festivals, divination, geomancy, and shamanism. Taking theoretical inspiration from Georges Bataille, Deleuze & Guattari, Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Jurgen Habermas, Talal Asad, and Chinese writers past and present, it suggest that these resurgent religiosities show an engagement with an archaic but modernized “sovereign power” that is more important to understand in China than Foucault’s “governmentality,” which better describes the West. These practices contribute to the emergence of an indigenous civil society and their “ritual economy” often counter-balances state capitalism in China.