THE DIVINE EYE AND THE DIASPORA
Updated 2015-06-09 00:37:14
Janet Alison Hoskins, professor of Anthropology and Religion at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, has just published a new book titled “The Divine Eye and the Diaspora. Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism”. (University of Hawaii Press Publisher, Feb. 2015)
“This examination of the Cao Dai religious movement is easily the most comprehensive and sympathetic study yet prepared on what is surely the most fascinating yet also the most misunderstood of Vietnam’s ‘new’ (colonial and post-colonial) religions. The work engages critically with existing interpretations of the Cao Dai faith and ventures a new interpretation of its emergence as a reflexive re-synthesis of Vietnamese religious traditions.
. . . In the hands of the author this engaging, complex and big-hearted Vietnamese religion at last has gained the sensitive and capable treatment it deserves.” —Philip Taylor, Australian National University.
What is the relationship between syncretism and diaspora? Caodaism is a large but almost unknown new religion that provides answers to this question. Born in Vietnam during the struggles of decolonization, shattered and spatially dispersed by cold war conflicts, it is now reshaping the goals of its four million followers. Colorful and strikingly eclectic, its “outrageous syncretism” incorporates Chinese, Buddhist and Western religions as well as world figures like Victor Hugo, Jeanne d’Arc, Vladimir Lenin, and (in the USA) Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.
Th e Divine Eye and the Diaspora looks at the connections between “the age of revelations” (1925-1934) in French Indochina and the “age of diaspora” (1975-present) when many Caodai leaders and followers went into exile. Structured in paired biographies to trace relations between masters and disciples, now separated by oceans, it focuses on five members of the founding generation and their followers or descendants in California, showing the continuing obligation to honor those who forged the initial vision to “bring the gods of the East and West together.” Diasporic congregations in California have interacted with New Age ideas and stereotypes of a “Walt Disney fantasia of the East,” at the same time that temples in Vietnam have re-opened their doors after decades of severe restrictions.
Caodaism forces us to reconsider how anthropologists study religious mixtures in postcolonial settings. Its dynamics challenge the unconscious Eurocentrism of our notions of how religions are bounded and conceptualized.
Here are the Contents in this book :
Chapter 1 – Conversations with Divinities : Séance and the First Disciples
Chapter 2 – A Spirit Medium as Nationalist Leader : Charisma and Anticolonialism
Chapter 3 – The Spiritual Sons of Victor Hugo : From Séance to Battlefield
Chapter 4 – The Fall of Saigon and the Rise of the Diaspora
Chapter 5 – A “Caodaist in Black” Returns to Live in Viet Nam
Chapter 6 – The Divine Eye on the Internet : Visions and Virtual Realities in the Shadow of Disneyland
Chapter 7 – A Religion in Diaspora, a Religion of Diaspora
The price of the book : Cloth or hard cover ……..$65.00
And Paperback ……….... $32.00