Abstract

In this article I examine high-stakes mahjong in Taiwan as a ritual mode of male agency fraught with political significance. I show how men divine fate by conjuring estranged game forces, while disavowing the "abeyance of agency" by deploying strategy and style to control fate's fickle flip-side—luck. Through "combat" with luck, men reanimate an officially orchestrated male totality, or martial imaginary, that reproduces idealized masculine values and patterns of citizenship. By further situating mahjong within a socially and politically encompassing play-ritual framework, I argue that mahjong mimesis generalizes a pathos of "sympathetic agonism" that blurs gender boundaries and that preserves a space for a plural democratic agôn.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 93-125
Launched on MUSE
2007-03-06
Open Access
No
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