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.

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Privileged Poor

As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.