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Nancy Chu

Fieldwork in Southern Taiwan

Novice nuns in class in Chiayi, Taiwan (Nancy Chu, 2016)Novice nun making an incense offering before the main hall in the monastery in Chiayi, Taiwan (Nancy Chu, 2016)Novice nun laughing after morning duties in the monastery, Chiayi, Taiwan (Nancy Chu, 2016)Over Easter holiday I traveled to Xiangguang Si, an all-women's monastery in a remote area of southern Taiwan. This was my second visit, following a 5-week initial visit three summers ago. I was interested in the way these Buddhist women understood and interpreted their spiritual and ethical project of self-formation through their commitment to monasticism. Also I was interested in looking at the process of producing anthropological knowledge and critically examining the role of the anthropologist as observer: was I there to learn about them or from them? What did they have to teach or unsettle in me? Through living, working, and interacting with this group of Buddhist women for three weeks, I found that they knew me as well as I sought to know them.

From top right:

Novice nuns in class in Chiayi, Taiwan.

Novice nun making an incense offering before the main hall in the monastery in Chiayi, Taiwan.

Novice nun laughing after morning duties in the monastery, Chiayi, Taiwan.