Self-Knowledge as Religious Knowledge: Lottery Divination in Buddhist Temples in Contemporary China
Speaker: Yang Shen (Cultural Anthropology; Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)
Time: 12 January 2021, 6:15 pm–7:45 pm Central European Time (US East Coast: 12:15 pm–1:45 pm EST; China: 1:15 am–2:45 am CST)
This talk is part of a series of virtual lectures hosted by the International Research Consortium “Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication” at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. The full schedule is available at http://ikgf.fau.de/events/upcoming-events/
For online participation, please register anytime at http://ikgf.fau.de/lectures
Qian or lottery divination in Chinese temples is a convenient self-help technique for generic temple-goers to generate creative self-knowledge. Previous studies and popular discourse focus more on standardized divinatory poems or text-interpreters’ role in qian practices. My recent fieldwork in East China indicates that divination-seekers clearly distinguish a lot from a poem. The most critical transformative moment occurs in the ritual action of seeking the lot, by which temple-goers performatively turn themselves into a divine communicator and an asking agent. Interpretive relationships are secondary; they happen between various actors who share the temple spaces contingently and are established case by case through a sequence of entrustment moves. Long-term temple residents are not equally committed to temple-goers’ particular life situations. Those who do serve to ensure divinatory self-knowledge’s efficacious addressability. The study develops a ritual attunement approach for re-considering generic participation in Buddhist temples in contemporary China. In a late socialist temple setting where specialized diviners are institutionally excluded, self-help lottery divination gives us a case to rethink the social constitution of religious knowledge.
Michael Lüdke, International Research Consortium “Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication—Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe," University of Erlangen–Nuremberg, http://ikgf.fau.de