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Tea Teachings As Power: Questioning Legitimate Authority

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the manner in which Jennifer L. Anderson presents her 1991 claim that tea is not a cult. The intention is to identify the sorts of authority Anderson invokes to sanctify and protect the subject of her text, the grand master system that underpins the international success of the Urasenke School of tea. Scrutiny of the texts Anderson criticizes is used to ask questions about her description of the Urasenke iemoto system and to demonstrate how the institutionalization of tea practice in that grand master system partially compromises espoused tea values. The notion of cult is relevant to an argument addressing the formation of tea subjectivities because the author is interested in how nationally distinctive cultural practices are sustained domestically and transmitted internationally across various media. Tea discourse is a system that offers the pleasures of identifying with sixteen generations of iemoto tradition.

Keywords: cultural practices; grand master system; Jennifer L. Anderson; tea practice; Urasenke iemoto system



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