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Senior Research Seminar: Professor Michael Puett

When Nov 25, 2016
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Seminar Room, Social Anthropology
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Professor Michael Puett
(Harvard University)

Creating Worlds: Ritual and the Subjunctive in Chinese Sacrificial Practice

One of the striking aspects of the cultural landscape of China has been the predominance of capricious gods and dangerous ghosts, as well as the prevalence of rituals aimed at domesticating these divine powers.  In this paper, I will explore the nature of these ritual practices and the competing forms they took over time, as well as the anti-sacrificial movements that emerged in opposition to them.  I will also discuss the indigenous theories that arose in China surrounding and opposing these practices.  I will argue that these theories open up some intriguing issues when considered in relation to our recent debates in anthropology concerning ritual, belief, and ontology.

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