What is Missing in ‘The Wenzhou Model’? Ritual Economy and Bataille’s Notion of ‘Sovereignty’ in China

What is Missing in 'The Wenzhou Model'? Ritual Economy and Bataille's Notion of 'Sovereignty' in China

Mayfair Yang - Professor of Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara

Friday, November 6, 2009 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 105, Department of Anthropology See map
10 Sachem Street
New Haven, CT 06511

The “Wenzhou Model” is often touted in China as a successful model of rural economic development and rural industrialization. Based on privatized household production, commodity markets, rapid urbanization and industrialization, the local people of Wenzhou have transformed themselves from rural poverty to one of China’s most prosperous. However, the Wenzhou Model as described by economists and sociologists has ignored a highly visible phenomenon, the great expenditures on popular rituals and building of ritual sites. Slides from fieldwork in 1991-2008 will illustrate the many dimensions of ritual economy: deity temples, religious processions and festivals, Buddhist and Daoist temples, Protestant and Catholic churches, life-cycle rituals, and lineage ancestor rituals. These religious activities show that the local people are asserting what Georges Bataille has called, their “sovereignty,” or freedom from being treated as a mere “tool.”

China, Taiwan, Hong Kong