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The Enigmatic Ancestors of Yen-Liao

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A Taiwan Case in Southern Chinese Tradition

image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

This article explores a case of ancestor worship in Taiwan, within the southern sphere of Chinese culture. Ancestry as a system of belonging works as a fundamental grammar for building structural continuity in traditional China, yet the system displays a great deal of variation. The Hakka peasants of southern Taiwan are shown to honour, in an ‘unorthodox way’, several different agnatic lines of descent as forming an individual, while at the same time strongly collectivising the dead into one single unit. The latter works as a denial of the first pluralistic message.

Affiliations: 1: Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg


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