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In the first chapter, the author shows how qigong developed in official medical institutions from 1949 to 1964. A young party cadre called Liu Guizhen used the practice of neiyanggong to cure himself of an ulcer in 1947. This cure marked the beginning of the integration of qigong into official traditional medicine at a time when it was being revised and institutionalised in the context of developing a national health system. Palmer emphasises that the choice of the term qigong by Communist Party cadres in 1949 was a reflection of their desire to uproot such practices from their religious context and employ them in the project of building a modern state. In the process of being co-opted into this national drive, the practices themselves underwent a change in their mode of transmission: the relationship of master to disciple was modernised into that of doctor and patient. In China prior to 1949 it would have been unthinkable to study such bodily techniques outside their various ritualised martial, medical, religious, or ancestral contexts, so there was no set term to define a single community within which a unified network of practitioners could forge an identity. After being labelled superstitions in 1962, these practices fell into disuse until they were forbidden outright in1964, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution.
3 In Chapters Two and Three, the author argues that in the 1980s, qigong provided a utopian political space that became a means for advancing individual empowerment, freedom, and subjective capabilities within a market of physical health and spiritual development. In effect these practices enabled the Chinese to rediscover their bodies and their subjective capacities after years of collectivism, industrial socialism, and control over their self-expression, leading to the "somatisation of suffering." For David Palmer, qigong at that time was still a way of reconciling tradition with the future through the construction of a collective memory and an identity that transcended certain post-Maoist nihilist trends. Guo Lin, a woman who had been cured of uterine cancer through practicing qigong, became especially influential in the open spaces of the cities, i.e., outside official institutions, through spreading knowledge of the breathing methods that she had developed while climbing the sacred mountains.
4 During the 1980s, then, qigong permeated the population through local groups, hierarchically organised into national and international networks. That is why there was a difference between this transmission by way of such "mass movements" and the traditional transmission from a master to a restricted number of disciples who shared their daily lives together. The author argues that these movements, or "denominations," which supposedly involved over 20 percent of China's urban population, were often organised around masters who drew their "charisma" from a network of political affiliations, from a reinvented tradition, and from this large mass of disciples and believers. Their practices -- which were sometimes linked to state-sponsored campaigns concerning public health, sport, science, and national defence -- took place in the gaps left open by the state apparatus, while being nonetheless under the patronage of highly placed government officials. In David Palmer's view, the development of qigong was based on a combination of ritual and institutional State support, as well as the dynamism and spontaneity of the local groups.
5 Chapter Four shows how qigong in the 1980s assumed a highly technological form, which was incorporated into the scientistic movement supporting the ideas of national development at the time. Having become a "bodily science" that contained the mysteries of a reinvented traditional China, it contributed towards the affirmation of the special identity, and even the superiority, of Chinese medicine, and in time this led to a quasi-scientific revolution inspired by utopian visions of the paranormal. Experiments by Gu Hansen (of the Shanghai Institute of Atomic Research) focused on the "external qi" as a "flow of particles" that could be measured by electronic detection. Similarly, research conducted by Qian Xuesen (of the National Defence Committee for Science and Technology) aimed at demonstrating the possibility of obtaining data on paranormal states, and of proceeding to establish qigong as a science that would allow the renewal of Marxism. For his part, Master Yan Xin (whose powers were put to the test at Tsinghua University) conceived the idea that qigong was the true science underlying Chinese civilisation. But other scientists such as Yu Guangyuan (at the Institute of Natural Dialectics) opposed research into the paranormal, and during the 1990s their position was to emerge victorious.
6 In Chapter Five the author shows that in the second half of the 1980s, some traditional practices and symbols were (re)incorporated into the originally secular qigong concept, providing a means of religious expression outside the regulations and sites specified by the bureau of religious affairs. In this context he advances his notion of a "fever" as a "form of collective effervescence typical of post-totalitarian China." This fever was manifested in the proliferation of self-proclaimed masters and specialised journals, and in the numbers of people following traditional soothsaying, martial arts, and medical practices bearing the qigong label to promote their activities. Certain particularly flamboyant masters organised "power inducing lectures" during which thousands of participants "entered into a trance."
7 Chapter Six deals with the controversies and crises that shook the qigong world from the autumn of 1986 until 1996, when the government attempted to regain control over the same mass movements that it had fomented, and which were now escaping its grip. In the 1990s both government agencies and masters of the leading "denominations" sought to organise their domains in order to control and extend their networks. However, some of these denominations, such as Zhong Gong and the notorious Falun Gong, nurtured more ambitious projects and began to clash with the qigong organisations licensed by the state and the Communist Party. The invisible webs that these organisations had spun within the Party and the administration gave them de facto independence from state control. In Chapter Seven, the author provides a detailed analysis of the organisation of two of the qigong denominations, the vast Zhong Gong network and the regional organisation of Zangmi Gong.
8 Chapters Eight and Nine are devoted to a thorough analysis of Falun Gong and its millenarianism. The author believes that its challenge to the Communist Party in 1999 -- when 10,000 followers gathered for a "peaceful" demonstration outside the Zhongnanhai compound -- arose from a break back in the mid-1990s between Falun Gong and the qigong organisations licensed by the state. Once this disruption of the correct political rituals occurred -- and the author considers these to have been typically Chinese in relying upon the mutual interdependence between the officials and those under their governance -- the source of legitimacy and morality became polarised around the master Li Hongzhi. The government's subsequent campaign for the dissolution of Falun Gong picked up on the old theme, often repeated during Imperial times, of the struggle against "deviant teaching" (xiejiao). At the beginning of the twenty-first century it culminated in the dispersal of the larger part of the qigong movement.
9 In his final chapter, David Palmer situates qigong within the long-term perspective of Chinese religions, and especially the sectarian movements that have marked their historical trajectory since the end of the Han dynasty. These "sects" have always been distinct from the three great institutional traditions (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism) and from communal ceremonies, although they are also characterised by voluntary membership, the practices of health and self cultivation, and messianic teachings. Throughout history this "sectarian" label has covered an eclectic conglomeration of groups organised into flexible networks that were sometimes considered heterodox or even harmful, and were therefore condemned by the authorities. In times of repression, their modes of transmission became secret in order to enable the rebuilding of their organisations. These "sects" developed particularly strongly from the Song dynasty onwards, when Taoism and Buddhism fell from grace in favour of neo-Confucianism. They later drew some attention to themselves under the Qing dynasty on account of their anti-Manchu nationalism. Under the Republic, such groups developed rapidly in response to the destruction of traditional culture and local community cults, only to be eradicated after 1949 by the Communist Party.
Изменено: TaijiTanglang, 31 Январь 2014 - 11:31