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David Palmer & Elijah Siegler – Enchanting Huashan in the Global Spiritual Circuit: Intersecting Modes of Making Sacred Space

November 17, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

David Palmer
, University of Hong Kong
Elijah Siegler, College of Charleston

This talk is based on the newly released book Dream Trippers (University of Chicago Press), a multi-sited ethnographic study of transnational encounters between American Daoist spiritual tourists and practitioners and the Chinese monks and hermits of the sacred Daoist peak of Huashan. In this talk, the co-authors will describe how the mountain is a source of enchanting experiences for both American “Dream Trippers” and the Daoist monks of the Order of Complete Perfection.

Many American practitioners perceive these experiences within a framework of ontological individualism, while others use Qigong practice to connect and attune to the ‘energies’ of the mountain within the framework of a Daoist cosmology that has been extracted from its historical and cultural context. For the monks, on the other hand, the cosmological attunement of Daoist cultivation occurs through enchanted connections with the Immortals of Daoist history and lineage. What happens when, through encounters between the two groups, these different narratives of enchantment confront each other, or become imbricated with each other?

Dr. David A. Palmer is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Sociology and Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, at the University of Hong Kong. After completing his PhD in the Anthropology of Religion at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, he was the Eileen Barker Fellow in Religion and Contemporary Society at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and, from 2004 to 2008, director of the Hong Kong Centre of the French School of Asian Studies (Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient). His books include the award-winning Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China (Columbia University Press, 2007); The Religious Question in Modern China (co-authored with Vincent Goossaert, University of Chicago Press, 2011; awarded the Levenson Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies); and Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Spirituality (co-authored with Elijah Siegler, University of Chicago Press, 2017).

 Dr. Elijah Siegler is a Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He has degrees from Harvard University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has published an introductory textbook on New Religious Movements (Routledge, 2007), and articles about religion in film and television, on American Daoism, and on religious studies pedagogy. He recently edited Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order (Baylor University Press, 2016) and co-wrote, with David Palmer, Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Predicament of Modern Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2017)


November 17, 2017
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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CGIS Knafel K262
1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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