The second Asian studies seminar series of this semester take place on Tuesday 12 February in Project Room (1.06), 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9JU
In the Taiwanese context, divination refers to a set of different techniques for obtaining supernaturally sourced knowledge, ranging from simple yes and no answers revealed by the dropping of so-called divination blocks to extended dialogues between humans and deities through the services of an entranced spirit-medium. This presentation introduces a new database of records, spanning from the early 19080s to the present, of questions posed by believers to the deities of a central Taiwanese spirit-writing cult, and of the answers received by them. I will endeavour to demonstrate how such primary data can be used to study folk beliefs and their social contexts.
Philip Clart is Professor of Chinese Culture and History at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in 1997; prior to coming to Leipzig he taught at the University of British Columbia (1996-1998) and at the University of Missouri-Columbia (1998-2008). He is the editor of the Journal of Chinese Religions and co-editor (with Elisabeth Kaske) of the monograph series Leipziger Sinologische Studien. His main research areas are popular religion and new religious movements in Taiwan, religious change and state/religion relations in China, as well as literature and religions of the late imperial period (10th-19th c.). His monographs include Han Xiangzi: The Alchemical Adventures of a Daoist Immortal (University of Washington Press, 2007) and Die Religionen Chinas (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009). He has edited or co-edited Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society (University of Hawai‘i Press 2003), The People and the Dao: New Studies of Chinese Religions in Honour of Daniel L. Overmyer (Institute Monumenta Serica, 2009), Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions (Boyang Publishing, 2012), Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China: 1800-2012 (De Gruyter, 2015), and Hundert Jahre Ostasiatisches Institut an der Universität Leipzig (Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2016).