The Way That Lives in the Heart: Chinese Popular Religion and Spirit Mediums in Penang, Malaysia


Jean DeBernardi
2006. NUS Press Singapore
Softcover. 22.3cm x 15.2m, 372 pages
35 black/white & colour photographs
ISBN 9789971694173

Product Description

The Way That Lives in the Heart is a richly detailed ethnographic analysis of the practice of Chinese religion in the modern, multicultural Southeast Asian city of Penang, Malaysia. The study focuses on popular religious culture and spirit mediumship, a form of ritual practice of great antiquity that remains important in southern China and in Southeast Asia. The book discusses taken-for-granted patterns of action and interpretation that offer a way for individuals to understand and control their fate, luck, prosperity and health in the quest for a god life. The book provides an important perspective on the study of living religious traditions that are not counted among the major word religions, but which for many are part of the fabric of everyday life.

Editorial Reviews

“Among its many virtues, this book contains one of the clearest discussions to date of the development of streams of practices we call “spirit medium (popular) religion” and “shamanism” through Southern China down into Southeast Asia.” Steven P. Hopkins, Harvard Divinity Bulletin

About the Author

Jean DeBernardi, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, began research on the history of Chinese religion in Penang in 1991 as a Luce Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Cornell University. From there he continued the research in London and Singapore. The Way that Lives in the Heart: Chinese Popular Religion and Spirit Mediums in Penang, Malaysia as well as another of his titles, Penang: Rites of Belonging, is the culmination of his extensive research.

Table of Contents

A Note on Romanization
Part One: Heaven on Earth
1: Mending Luck
2: Spiritual Collisions
3: Possessed by the Past
Part Two: Spirit Mediums
4: Domesticating the Dead
5: Self-Cultivation and the Dao
6: The Teachings of a Modern Master
7: Drawing on the Dark Side
Chinese Glossary

Additional Information

Weight 600 g
Dimensions 22.30 x 15.20 x 2.00 cm