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Glass Temples: Taiwanese, Pilgrimage, Remediated

Friday, April 5, 2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 918

The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) presents "Glass Temples: Taiwanese, Pilgrimage, Remediated" a brown bag lecture, part of the Taiwan Lectures Series with discussant DJ, Hatfield, Assistant Professor, Berklee College of Music. 

Co-sponsored by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) and Department of Anthropology

DJ Hatfield's abstract:

"Scholarship on Taiwanese ritual practices has demonstrated that images and temple structures are complex, networked assemblages. In this talk, I consider a shift in the techniques of complicity that render these assemblages durable. Drawing from the case of Hoseng Kiong, a temple to the Goddess Mazu in Lukang constructed nearly entirely from glass, I argue that multiplicity and remediation have become dominant tropes in Taiwanese ritual life. If the Taiwanese pilgrimage fever of the late 20th century depended on the notion of some authentic, originary source in China to support their competitive bids for centrality within the Mazu cult, current ritual practices engage multiple nodes within an increasingly global network. They also tend to delight in their own construction or artificiality. While both of these tropes rely upon the overall logic of Taiwanese ritual practices, they demonstrate entanglements with state projects of managed culture as well as popular attempts to reimagine Taiwan as a post-Chinese society. On many counts, Hoseng Kiong is exceptional: it was constructed to showcase the ingenuity of Taiwanese glass manufacturers, makes connections to environmentalist movements, and represents Taiwanese landscapes as a sacred geography. Mainstream temples share these features--reflexivity, global or cosmic projection--in less obvious form. How do these features, which signal a remediation of religious sites and objects, transform pilgrimage and other ritual practices?"