Konfuzius-Institut Leipzig

Feeding and Robbing the Hungry Ghosts (in Taiwan): A Photographic and Ethnographic Essay

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Adam Yuet Chau (University of Cambridge)

Feeding and Robbing the Hungry Ghosts (in Taiwan): A Photographic and Ethnographic Essay

Hungry ghosts in the Chinese world are spirits who are not fed and clothed on a regular basis (unlike well-attended deities and ancestors). Many of them undergo punishments in hell for their wrongdoings while alive, not being able to eat anything as food items turn into flames in their mouths. Or they wander around, lurk in dark corners and snatch morceaux of offerings from other people’s ancestral spirits. They are the most pitiable beings in the Chinese religious imagination. In order to relieve them from such a sorry state and to prevent them from causing disturbances, the Chinese have developed an elaborate system of pacifying hungry ghosts, culminating in the rituals and offerings during the so-called Ghost Month (the seventh lunar month). In this presentation I will provide a visual and ethnographic account of two major religious event productions in Taiwan relating to the feeding of the hungry ghosts (and like beings): the Robbing the Hungry Ghosts Festival (搶孤) in Tou-cheng (頭城) and the Righteous Martyrs Festival (義民節) in Hsin-pu (新埔). I will also explain some of the organising principles going into these festivals (e.g., hosting as a ‘cultural form’).

Adam Yuet Chau is Professor of the Anthropology of China, teaching in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and Fellow at St John’s College. He is the author of Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China (Stanford University Press 2006) and Religion in China: Ties That Bind (Polity Press 2019), and editor of Religion in Contemporary China: Revitalization and Innovation (Routledge 2011).  He is currently editing a volume entitled Chinese Religious Culture in 100 Objects, with one hundred scholars each contributing an entry. Other book projects investigate the idiom of hosting (zuozhu) and forms of powerful writing (‘text acts’) in Chinese political and religious culture. He is interested in developing better ways of conceptualising Chinese religious culture. One of his out-reach ambitions is to stop people from asking the question ‘How many religions are there in China?’

Termin: Dienstag, 04. Juli 2023

Uhrzeit: 18.oo Uhr – 19.30 Uhr

Weitere Informationen zu der Veranstaltung sowie zur Anmeldung erhalten Sie auf der Webseite des Konfuzius-Instituts Leipzig: https://www.konfuziusinstitut-leipzig.de/veranstaltung/43924/