Reforming The Dead

Overview

Through funeral reform, the Chinese Communist Party has long sought to replace ancestor worship with death practices that reflect a secular vision of socialist modernity. In a radical break from tradition, current policies mandate rapid cremation, simple memorial services, and internment in public cemeteries. Still enforced today, funeral reform continues to have a profound effect on Chinese death practices. Unlike previous historical periods where Chinese death ritual was characterized by a high degree of ...
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Overview

Through funeral reform, the Chinese Communist Party has long sought to replace ancestor worship with death practices that reflect a secular vision of socialist modernity. In a radical break from tradition, current policies mandate rapid cremation, simple memorial services, and internment in public cemeteries. Still enforced today, funeral reform continues to have a profound effect on Chinese death practices. Unlike previous historical periods where Chinese death ritual was characterized by a high degree of uniformity, in current times, a ritual divide now exists between rural residents who adhere to a traditional form of ancestor worship and urban residents who have largely adopted socialist rites introduced by the CCP through a program of funeral reform. The persistence of traditional forms in rural areas in spite of government efforts at reform and the ready adoption of the socialist forms in urban, post-reform China suggest that the continued ritual divide is neither a case of peasants' backwardness nor of urbanites' submission to state authority. On the contrary, their persistence and adoption in the post-reform era suggests that the ritual divide remains because both of these ritual forms remain efficacious in doing the work of death. This study will show that the ritual divide is in fact evidence not of separation and disruption, but a flexible ritual system responsive to the social context in which they are performed. In so doing, this study will present a different model for understanding Chinese death rites and use this model as an angle of entry in the consideration of the changing relationship between the state and its subjects in today's China. The method used is comparative; drawing from data from 15 months of discontinuous fieldwork between 2003-2005 and a formal survey of 53 funerals in Xian's San Zhao Crematorium and Cemetery Facility in the city and rural suburbs of Xian, Shaanxi Province, The People's Republic of China.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243561459
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/3/2011
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.52 (d)

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