Cell phones for the spirits: ancestor worship and ritual economies in Vietnam and its diasporas

Religion has been thriving in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since đổi mới, the onset of market reforms in the late 1980s. Votive paper offerings, part of spiritual and economic well-being, play a crucial role in performing religious practices in the socialist country as well as among diasporic V...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Material religion
Main Author: Hüwelmeier, Gertrud (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2016]
In:Material religion
Year: 2016, Volume: 12, Issue: 3, Pages: 294-321
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Vietnam / Ancestor cult / Votive offering / New media
Further subjects:B popular religion
B Vietnamese diaspora
B ritual economy
B Vietnam
B Materiality
B trance mediums
B Media
B ancestor worship
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
Description
Summary:Religion has been thriving in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since đổi mới, the onset of market reforms in the late 1980s. Votive paper offerings, part of spiritual and economic well-being, play a crucial role in performing religious practices in the socialist country as well as among diasporic Vietnamese. In urban Hanoi, material objects made from paper are traded in marketplaces and later burned in the streets, in temples and pagodas, in private yards and other places on special occasions in order to be transmitted to the ancestors. In the past few years, the range of votive paper offerings produced, traded, and sent to the deceased has expanded to include new forms and references to new media. Drawing on recent debates in the role of media in religion and in particular on technologies of mediation, I focus on the use of votive paper offerings in the sociocultural context of the Vietnamese spirit world. I explore how new media and media technologies are embedded in multilayered processes of mediation in Vietnam and its diasporas. Taking religious practices of burning votive paper offerings as an ethnographic example, this essay aims to contribute to ongoing debates on popular religion and the sacred life of material goods in late socialist Vietnam, on its transnational ties, and on the entanglements between religion, media and materiality.
ISSN:1751-8342
Contains:Enthalten in: Material religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1080/17432200.2016.1192149