Announcing the Final Examination
of Zuotang Zhang(LLC Cohort 12)
and Location: June 25, 2014 at 3:30 p.m., 107 Public Policy Building
Title: An Ethnography of Traditional Rural
Folk Funeral Practice in Northwestern
This ethnographic study will analyze data collected through
field-based observations, primary ritual texts, and locally conducted
interviews of the yin-yang practitioners in the three small villages of
Fanmagou, Qijiazhuang, and Wangdazhuang in northwestern China. The practice
referred to as yin-yang in this region is part of an archaic folk religious
system that can be traced back to at least the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
Despite its deep cultural roots, it is becoming endangered due to the impact of
national policies (governing religion and culture) and the general adaptation
to modernity in China. Due to the localized nature of this cultural system, the
main research method used will be qualitative ethnographic description, with a
Geertzian “thick description” approach to interpretive analysis. The collected
data is roughly divided into three categories: (1) transcriptions of interviews
with yin-yang practitioners and other local villagers; (2) video tapes,
photographs, and field notes of local religious rituals, specifically memorial
and burial rites that are led by the yin-yang practitioners, and (3) my own
translations of yin-yang scriptural texts that are used in leading the rituals
themselves, as well as for the teaching and training of young yin-yang apprentices.
The interpretive ethnography that is produced from these rich primary sources
will also be considered for its curriculum applications in two primary higher
education contexts: 1) As a rich primary
source for courses in Chinese culture and language – conducted in either
Chinese or English language context, and 2) As a source of engaging and
culturally relevant texts for courses in content-based ESOL for Chinese
students (in China presumably).
Committee: Joby Taylor, Chair
Beverly Bickel, Co-Chair
public is welcome to observe.