Diasporas are experienced and theorized by those who move from one country to another, who may narrate their lives as ones of exile and separation, or alternatively as part of a divinely coordinated plan for exodus. The perspectives of the modernist and syncretistic religion of Caodaism stress the trauma of colonial conquest, and incorporate many new external elements into a constantly expanding cosmopolitan cosmology, while followers of the spirit possession practices of Đạo Mẫu instead look back at the grandeur of the imperial past, taking the “originalist” stance that the most ancient practice has the most authority. I argue that new rituals and new gender configurations emerge to “sacralize the diaspora,” to craft different interpretations of religious symbolism, and to provide an innovative response to displacement.
Sacralizing the Diaspora: Cosmopolitan and Originalist Indigenous Religions
Janet Alison Hoskins is Professor of Anthropology and Religion at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is author of The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectiveson Calendars, History and Exchange (University of California Press, 1994), which won the 1996 Benda Prize for Southeast Asian Studies; Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Story of People’s Lives (Routledge, 1998) and The Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015). She is also the contributing editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (with Viet Thanh Nguyen, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014), Headhunting and the Social Imagination in Southeast Asia (Stanford University Press, 1996); Anthropology as a Search for the Subject: The Space Between One Self and Another (Donizelli, 1999); and Fragments from Forests and Libraries (Carolina Academic Press, 2000).
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Janet Alison Hoskins; Sacralizing the Diaspora: Cosmopolitan and Originalist Indigenous Religions. Journal of Vietnamese Studies 1 May 2017; 12 (2): 108–140. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jvs.2017.12.2.108
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