The goddess, the ethnologist, the folklorist and the cadre: situating exegesis of Vietnams folk religion in time and place

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    Abstract

    Vietnamese anthropology has been portrayed as a project in close alignment with the goals of a progressivist, culturally assimilationist and security-oriented state. This paper explores unexpectedly positive assessments by anthropologists and folklorists of a recent popular upsurge in goddess worship, which many local scholars deem an example of local, time-honoured and integrative cultural practice. Such assessments may be viewed in the context of state attempts to strengthen national identifications as a counterbalance to its policies of economic liberalisation and integration with the capitalist world. Yet there is more to these interpretations than a story of intellectuals following an official script. In particular, we can factor in the effects upon these commentators themselves of rapid social and cultural change, particularly in urban areas where the majority of them are based. The paper argues for the need to move beyond a view of the Vietnamese state as the only or most critical factor in the shaping of local intellectual responses to popular practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)383-401
    JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology, The
    Volume14
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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