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Article: Modernity and Millenialism in China: Qigong and the Birth of Falun Gong

TitleModernity and Millenialism in China: Qigong and the Birth of Falun Gong
Authors
Issue Date2003
PublisherChinese University Press. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ant/asian/
Citation
Asian Anthropology, 2003, v. 2, p. 79-110 How to Cite?
AbstractIn the 1980’s and 90’s, China experienced the booming popularity of traditional breathing, gymnastic and meditation techniques, described by media chroniclers as “qigong fever”. At its height, the qigong movement attracted over one hundred million practitioners, making it the most widespread form of popular religiosity in post-Maoist urban China. During this period, breathing and meditation techniques were disseminated to a degree perhaps never before seen in Chinese history. Initially sponsored by Chinese state health institutions in the early days of the Peoples’ Republic to extract useful body techniques from their traditional religious setting, qigong became a conduit for the transmission, modernization and legitimization of religious concepts and practices within the Communist regime. In this article, I suggest that this legitimization was made possible by the elaboration of a utopian discourse of qigong which dovetailed with the millenialist strands of the Party’s official ideology. In a sense, the qigong movement was the fruit of a strange union between popular sectarianism and Chinese communist eschatology. The history of qigong is one of the gradual shift of a medicalized and secularized category towards practices and beliefs which marked an increasing return to the Chinese sectarian tradition, culminating in the emergence of Falun Gong. This article will describe the development of the qigong category from the late 1940’s to the end of the 1990’s, tracing the shifting combinations of practices and concepts which came to be associated with qigong in an evolving ideological and political context, and ending with an analysis of Falun Gong’s rupture with qigong groups. The case of qigong and Falun Gong illustrates the unresolved tensions between modernity, tradition, nationalism and politics in contemporary China.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194525
ISSN

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorPalmer, DA-
dc.date.accessioned2014-02-06T02:07:41Z-
dc.date.available2014-02-06T02:07:41Z-
dc.date.issued2003-
dc.identifier.citationAsian Anthropology, 2003, v. 2, p. 79-110-
dc.identifier.issn1683-478X-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194525-
dc.description.abstractIn the 1980’s and 90’s, China experienced the booming popularity of traditional breathing, gymnastic and meditation techniques, described by media chroniclers as “qigong fever”. At its height, the qigong movement attracted over one hundred million practitioners, making it the most widespread form of popular religiosity in post-Maoist urban China. During this period, breathing and meditation techniques were disseminated to a degree perhaps never before seen in Chinese history. Initially sponsored by Chinese state health institutions in the early days of the Peoples’ Republic to extract useful body techniques from their traditional religious setting, qigong became a conduit for the transmission, modernization and legitimization of religious concepts and practices within the Communist regime. In this article, I suggest that this legitimization was made possible by the elaboration of a utopian discourse of qigong which dovetailed with the millenialist strands of the Party’s official ideology. In a sense, the qigong movement was the fruit of a strange union between popular sectarianism and Chinese communist eschatology. The history of qigong is one of the gradual shift of a medicalized and secularized category towards practices and beliefs which marked an increasing return to the Chinese sectarian tradition, culminating in the emergence of Falun Gong. This article will describe the development of the qigong category from the late 1940’s to the end of the 1990’s, tracing the shifting combinations of practices and concepts which came to be associated with qigong in an evolving ideological and political context, and ending with an analysis of Falun Gong’s rupture with qigong groups. The case of qigong and Falun Gong illustrates the unresolved tensions between modernity, tradition, nationalism and politics in contemporary China.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherChinese University Press. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ant/asian/-
dc.relation.ispartofAsian Anthropology-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleModernity and Millenialism in China: Qigong and the Birth of Falun Gongen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.identifier.emailPalmer, DA: palmer19@hku.hk-
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.volume2-
dc.identifier.spage79-
dc.identifier.epage110-
dc.publisher.placeHong Kong-

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