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Conference Paper: The Body at the Junction of Religion and Scientism: Modernisation of Meditative Traditions in Contemporary China

TitleThe Body at the Junction of Religion and Scientism: Modernisation of Meditative Traditions in Contemporary China
Authors
Issue Date2003
PublisherMacau Ricci Institute. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.riccimac.org/eng/ccc/index.htm
Citation
Conference on“Religion and Culture: past approaches, present globalization, future challenges”, Macau, China, 28-29 November 2002. In Chinese Cross Currents, 2003, v. 1 n. 1, p. 54-87 How to Cite?
AbstractIn the 1980s and 1990s, traditional breathing, gymnastics and meditation techniques went through a period of booming popularity in China, 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, meditation techniques were disseminated to a degree never before seen in Chinese history. While qigong claims to be a tradition more than 5,000 years old and to be the origin of Chinese culture and civilisation, it is in fact a recent creation, initially sponsored by Chinese state health institutions to extract useful body techniques from their traditional religious setting. In this paper, I will present an overview of the qigong movement’s development in the twentieth century. I will show how, although rooted in ancient traditions, qigong is a decidedly modern phenomenon, and although purportedly a set of secular body techniques, it can be considered to be a form of religious practice centred on the body. Owing to the practical dimension of this type of technique, there has been a tendency, both in China and the West, to adapt them to a modern, secular, individualist lifestyle. The body becomes the locus for a new understanding of religious traditions, one which seeks to be compatible with a scientific worldview, and to reconcile the contradictions between tradition and modernity. And while meditative traditions have adapted well to secular culture, they have served to propagate religious concepts and practices under new guises, contributing to a post-secular resurgence of religion outside of traditional institutions.
Descriptionreprinted in Macau Ricci Institute (ed.), Religion and Culture: Past Approaches, Present Globalisation, Future Challenges. Macau: Macau Ricci Institute, 2004, p. 313-333
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194526

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorPalmer, DA-
dc.date.accessioned2014-02-06T02:32:40Z-
dc.date.available2014-02-06T02:32:40Z-
dc.date.issued2003-
dc.identifier.citationConference on“Religion and Culture: past approaches, present globalization, future challenges”, Macau, China, 28-29 November 2002. In Chinese Cross Currents, 2003, v. 1 n. 1, p. 54-87-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/194526-
dc.descriptionreprinted in Macau Ricci Institute (ed.), Religion and Culture: Past Approaches, Present Globalisation, Future Challenges. Macau: Macau Ricci Institute, 2004, p. 313-333-
dc.description.abstractIn the 1980s and 1990s, traditional breathing, gymnastics and meditation techniques went through a period of booming popularity in China, 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, meditation techniques were disseminated to a degree never before seen in Chinese history. While qigong claims to be a tradition more than 5,000 years old and to be the origin of Chinese culture and civilisation, it is in fact a recent creation, initially sponsored by Chinese state health institutions to extract useful body techniques from their traditional religious setting. In this paper, I will present an overview of the qigong movement’s development in the twentieth century. I will show how, although rooted in ancient traditions, qigong is a decidedly modern phenomenon, and although purportedly a set of secular body techniques, it can be considered to be a form of religious practice centred on the body. Owing to the practical dimension of this type of technique, there has been a tendency, both in China and the West, to adapt them to a modern, secular, individualist lifestyle. The body becomes the locus for a new understanding of religious traditions, one which seeks to be compatible with a scientific worldview, and to reconcile the contradictions between tradition and modernity. And while meditative traditions have adapted well to secular culture, they have served to propagate religious concepts and practices under new guises, contributing to a post-secular resurgence of religion outside of traditional institutions.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherMacau Ricci Institute. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.riccimac.org/eng/ccc/index.htm-
dc.relation.ispartofChinese Cross Currents-
dc.rightsThey allow final published version, 2004 - 2006.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleThe Body at the Junction of Religion and Scientism: Modernisation of Meditative Traditions in Contemporary Chinaen_US
dc.typeConference_Paperen_US
dc.identifier.emailPalmer, DA: palmer19@hku.hk-
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.volume1-
dc.identifier.issue1-
dc.identifier.spage54-
dc.identifier.epage87-
dc.publisher.placeMacau-

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