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Modernity and Re-enchantment

Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam

Philip Taylor

Publication Year: 2007

The richness and vibrancy of Vietnamese spirituality are vividly portrayed in these twelve essays that shed light on the remarkable reflorescence of religion in this communist country. Ancestor worship, mediumship, sacrifices, and communal rituals have not only survived Vietnam’s reintegration into the capitalist world; they are intrinsic to the dramatic reshaping of its contemporary social and cultural life. Transnational Buddhism and Christianity challenge the political status quo as they answer conflicting aspirations for enlightenment, justice, national development and cultural identity. Making conceptual contributions to anthropology and comparative religion, this book provides insights from post-revolutionary Vietnam into the diverse passages to re-enchantment in the modern world.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Religion in Vietnam came under intense scrutiny in 2005. That year, the U.S. State Department included Vietnam for the second successive year on a list of countries allegedly in grave violation of the right to freely observe religion. Human rights organizations...

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1. Modernity and Re-enchantment in Post-revolutionary Vietnam

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pp. 1-56

Religion in Vietnam has been thriving in recent years.1 Churches, pagodas and pilgrimage sites are crowded with devotees, offering signs of fervent faith and unmistakable religious vitality...

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2. Returning Home: Ancestor Veneration and the Nationalism of Đổi Mới Vietnam

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pp. 57-89

A few minutes before noon on 18 May 1994, a middle-aged foreigner in a business suit mounted the stairs of Đô Temple in the northern Vietnamese community of Đình Bảng. Villagers had just rebuilt the ancient temple, devoted to the worship of the eight...

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3. Ritual Revitalization and Nativist Ideology in Hanoi

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pp. 90-120

Rituals are flourishing in socialist Vietnam.1 From small village-level communal festivals to regional or national-level events, participation in rituals and pilgrimages is burgeoning...

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4. Feasting with the Living and the Dead: Food and Eating in Ancestor Worship Rituals in Hội An

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pp. 121-160

Ancestor worship ceremonies [đám giỗ]1 are the most commonly celebrated rituals in the central Vietnamese town of Hội An. As every person has two parents and four grandparents (in some cases even more as, prior to 1975, polygamy was legal and...

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5. Unjust-Death Deification and Burnt Offering: Towards an Integrative View of Popular Religion in Contemporary Southern Vietnam

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pp. 161-193

There has been no shortage of attempts to overview religions in southern Vietnam.1 Obtaining a coherent picture however, is another story. In what follows, taking a path deviating somewhat from the usual...

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6. Spirited Modernities: Mediumship and Ritual Performativityi n Late Socialist Vietnam

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pp. 194-220

In recent years, lên đồng spirit mediumship has been drawing an evergrowing number of devoted believers and initiates. Temples dedicated to the pantheon of the Four Palaces...

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7. Empowerment and Innovation among Saint Trần’s Female Mediums

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pp. 221-249

It is the beginning of a big thunderstorm in mid-summer 2003. The wind whistles through the window and the wooden shutters beat the frame of the casement window of Lan’s newly built four-storey house...

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8. “Buddhism for This World”: The Buddhist Revival in Vietnam, 1920 to 1951, and Its Legacy

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pp. 250-296

On the morning of 11 June 1963, 67-year-old monk Thích Quảng Ðức sat down in a meditative position at a busy intersection in Sài Gòn and burned himself to death, shocking Vietnam and the world...

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9. The 2005 Pilgrimage and Return to Vietnam of Exiled Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh

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pp. 297-341

This chapter discusses the Spring 2005 pilgrimage and return to Vietnam of 79-year-old exiled Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh.1 It examines the background, intentions, main highlights and outcomes of this trip and then analyses its significance...

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10. Nationalism, Globalism and the Re-establishment of the Trúc Lâm Thiền Buddhist Sect in Northern Vietnam

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pp. 342-370

While conducting research on contemporary Buddhist practice in Hanoi from 1997 to 1998, people frequently brought up the subject of Zen [Thiền]1 mummies.* These mummies were said to have been exceptional Zen masters whose level of spiritual...

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11. Miracles and Myths: Vietnam Seen through Its Catholic History

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pp. 371-398

Vietnamese Catholicism has a rich store of myths and miracles and its own heretics and gnostics.1 Indeed, the story of Catholicism’s reception and interaction with local religious culture, and the history of its intersection with the Vietnamese state...

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12. Strangers on the Road: Foreign Religious Organizations and Development in Vietnam

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pp. 399-444

When news of the disaster in Tân Cảnh village reached the office of “Protestant Aid”, the project officer, Mr Ðỗ, left immediately with his assistant and driver in their white Land Cruiser. It was early in the morning, yet there were already many people...


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pp. 445-478


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pp. 479-488

About the Contributors

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pp. 489-491

Publications in the Vietnam Update Series

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p. 492-492

E-ISBN-13: 9789812304568
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812304407

Page Count: 492
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1