Caodaism is a new religion born in Vietnam during the struggles of decolonization, shattered and spatially dispersed by cold war conflicts, and now reshaping the goals of its four million followers. Colorful and strikingly eclectic, 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.
“This examination of the Caodai 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 postcolonial) religions. The work engages critically with existing interpretations of the Caodai faith and ventures a new interpretation of its emergence as a reflexive re-synthesis of Vietnamese religious traditions—a self-defensive re-articulation of identity—in the context of colonial cultural and political domination, frustrated nationalism, diasporic dispersal, and transnational globalism. . . . 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, The Australian National University
Michigan Tech University anthropology professor Carol A. MacLennan is back in Hawai‘i to continue research on the environmental history of Pearl Harbor. While here she will discuss her recent book, Sovereign Sugar: Industry and Environment in Hawai‘i, which examines the transformative role of sugar manufacture on Hawai‘i’s cultural, socioeconomic, and natural landscapes.
Thursday, October 23, 7:30 p.m. (Refreshments at 7:00 p.m.)
Hawaiian Historical Society Lecture Presentation
“Hawai‘i’s Sugar Islands, Lessons from the Landscape”
Location: Kana‘ina Building (Old Archives Building), ‘Iolani Palace Grounds Click here for more details.
For travelers searching for books and maps about their destination, Longitude has been the go-to resource since 1999. In the July issue of its newsletter highlighting travel to Indonesia, Michael French Smith’s A Faraway, Familiar Place is the featured book for Papua New Guinea and includes an excerpt from his post that appeared earlier on the Longitude blog.
“Simon’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on the Minangkabau. He offers a dynamic view of how Minangkabau people negotiate the contradictions and tensions they experience in everyday contexts and provides an excellent exposition of the concepts of social integration and individual autonomy. By bringing Islam into the larger conversation about moral subjectivity, he demonstrates how people engage with and make use of Islamic values in their daily lives.” —Evelyn Blackwood, Purdue University