In this distinctive book, Charles Stafford describes the Chinese fascination with separation and reunion. Drawing on his field studies in Taiwan and mainland China, he gives a vivid account of festivals of reunion, rituals for the sending-off of gods, silent leave-takings, poetic words of parting, and bitter political rhetoric. Stafford examines how these idioms and practices help people situate themselves in historical communities, and how they are deployed in official Chinese rhetoric concerning Taiwan. The discussion of these everyday rituals offers rich insights into Chinese and Taiwanese society and culture.
'The intimate vignettes of family life and relations, the vivid portrayal of the often very unfamiliar ways in which intimacy and affection are expressed, are telling, often delightful or affecting - and alas uncommon in Chinese ethnography today. This is a work I shall gladly use to introduce my undergraduates to contemporary China in a way that will capture their attention without simplifying its complexity.' Francesca Bray University of California, Santa Barbara
Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)
Table of Contents
Introduction: an anthropology of separation
1. Two festivals of reunion
2. The etiquette of parting and return
3. Greeting and sending-off the dead
4. The ambivalent threshold
5. Commensality as reunion
6. Women and the obligation to return
7. Developing a sense of history
8. Classical narratives of separation
9. The politics of separation and reunion in China and Taiwan
Conclusion: the separation constraint.