Terry hu: Writing her transition from actor to new age authority in Taiwan

Paul Farrelly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article discusses the ways in which Terry Hu (Hu Yinmeng), a movie star turned translator and author, generated religious authority to become the earliest high-profile proponent of the New Age in Taiwan. Her career offers a new perspective on the late-twentieth-century transnational circulation of New Age thought; we can see how she drew on this global phenomenon to emerge as a hybrid authority in the rapidly changing society of post-martial law Taiwan. Her father was a politician and as a child she developed a high level of proficiency in English before becoming a famous actor. However, dissatisfaction with the film industry and a chaotic marriage and divorce led her to explore solutions to her personal issues, including reading a variety of American spiritual and self-help literature and going on a New Age-inspired individual retreat in New York City in 1988. This journey, represented as a spiritual auto-hagiography in her publications—especially Ancient Future (1990)—ultimately led her to deeply embrace the transformative potential and cosmologies of the New Age. Hu's spiritual practice included writing, translation, and retreat, and she leveraged her existing celebrity to develop a new fluid identity, blending elements of the authors she translated with selected aspects of her own lived experience, emerging with a type of hybrid authority that is relevant to the study of the New Age globally and of religion in Chinese societies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-73
    JournalAsian Ethnology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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