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Chinese Ghosts: Reconciling Psychoanalytic, Structuralist, And Marxian Perspectives

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses a problem in anthropological analyses of Chinese beliefs regarding ghosts and/or the soul. The author suggests that neither anthropology nor psychoanalytic theory has wholly succeeded in bridging an important gapa gap that can be located variously in distinctions between logic and affect, structuralism and psychoanalysis, and even (perhaps) mind and body. Images of supernatural powers that are products of human imagination are understood to be the producers of human social life, thus in the classically Marxian sense inverting the real relations between product and producer. The author believes that this structuralist/Marxist analysis can be augmented by a Freudian consideration of how ambivalence toward parental figures manifests in variously malevolent and benign supernatural powers.

Keywords: Chinese ghosts; Marxian analysis; psychoanalytic theory; structuralist



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