positions 9:1 Spring 2001 palpably real, the normally merely metaphorical ï¬gurations on which the nation-state depends for its own legitimating appropriation of history, popular religionâthe bodies of the urban poorââsuppl[ies] stately discourse with its concrete referents.â At the same time, participants in the possession cults themselves become in some way empoweredâable to make magic from the magic of the state.1 All of this might be applied to contemporary Taiwanese popular religion, except the magic involved is that of a state that went out of existence in 1911. Most discussions blithely skip over this issue, referring to the bureaucracy of the other world as an obviously more or less accurate reï¬ection of thisworldly administration, all the while failing to note that the Jade Emperorâs earthly counterpart can no longer be found.2 So that, perhaps, is one way of stating the question this essay seeks to address: What possibilities open up when the state chooses (as I shall discuss in more detail below) to rely on other, secular sources for its legitimacy? Taussigâs analysis, which I by no means would wish to dispute, ï¬ts rather nicely with many currently accepted notions of what constitutes popular culture. As is well known,
positions asia critique – Duke University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2001
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