HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS
Cover: Steps of Perfection in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 218

Steps of Perfection

Exorcistic Performers and Chinese Religion in Twentieth-Century Taiwan

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$45.00 • £36.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674010970

Publication Date: 11/30/2003

Short

47 figures

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

Despite Taiwan’s rise as an economic force in the world, modernity has not led to a Weberian process of disenchantment or curbed religiosity. To the contrary, other factors—social, economic, political—have stimulated religion. How and why this has happened are central issues in this book.

One part of Taiwan’s flourishing religious culture is the elaborate and colorful procession of local gods accompanied by troupes of musicians and dancers. Among them are performers with outlandishly painted faces portraying underworld generals who serve the gods and punish the living. Through their performances, these troupes claim to exorcise harmful forces from the community.

In conducting fieldwork among these troupes, Donald Sutton confronted their claims to a long history—when all evidence indicated that the troupes had been insignificant until the 1970s—and their assertions of devotion to tradition given the diversity of performances. Concentrating on the stylistic variations in performances, the author describes the troupes as organizations shaped by the “market forces” of supply and demand in the culture of religious festivals. By focusing on performances as the nexus of market and art, he shows how bodily performance is the site where religious statements are made and the power of the gods made visible.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, by Lindsay M. Chervinsky, from Harvard University Press

National Epidemics, Then and Now

Our current COVID-19 crisis isn’t the first time this nation has faced an epidemic. Lindsay M. Chervinsky, author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, tells about the yellow fever outbreak that our country faced in its capital during its early years—and how our first president responded. American responses to the 1793 outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia and the 2020 COVID-

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.