Seminar Speaker - Professor Elizabeth Hsu

Seminar Speaker - Professor Elizabeth Hsu

Anthropology Seminar Series Speaker invited by Knowing From the Inside Project to talk about their project related research:- Professor Elizabeth Hsu, University of Oxford

This project is a research theme related to the KFI project.


History in the body: the Yijin jing 易筋經 (The Canon for Supple Sinews) of 1624

This paper is motivated by a fieldwork experience, namely the learning of a routine of movements aimed at a) restoring one’s energies and evening out one’s moods and emotions, b) enhancing one’s bodily agility and the aesthetics of the movements performed in this routine and c) enabling one to attain unusual sensations, feelings and perceptions, and cognitive, emotional and somatic insights and abilities. This bodily routine was initially taught as a qigong breathing practice (learnt in 1988-89, see Hsu 1999: chapters 1-2) but later (in ethnographic fieldwork of 2009) found to derive from a Ming dynasty manual, the Yijin jing of 1624.

 This article proposes to conceive of this bodily routine as a skilled practice on the interface of religion and medicine, the performative arts and sports, yang sheng (self cultivation) and wushu (the martial arts). It was considered empowering in the sense of being healthful for the individual and in that it generated cosmogonic powers. For this latter reason, perhaps, its mode of transmission was secret. This raises a more general historiographic problem: how best might we research the sophisticated bodily routines and secretly transmitted skilled practices of the Chinese medico-religious archive, such as those recorded in the Yijin jing?

 

Please note change of Venue & Time: 

 

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