Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China

Hardcover | March 27, 2007

byDavid PalmerOtherMichael J. Dwyer

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Qigong?a regimen of body, breath, and mental training exercises?was one of the most widespread cultural and religious movements of late-twentieth-century urban China. The practice was promoted by senior Communist Party leaders as a uniquely Chinese healing tradition and as a harbinger of a new scientific revolution, yet the movement's mass popularity and the almost religious devotion of its followers led to its ruthless suppression.

In this absorbing and revealing book, David A. Palmer relies on a combination of historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to describe the spread of the qigong craze and its reflection of key trends that have shaped China since 1949, including the search for a national identity and an emphasis on the absolute authority of science. Qigong offered the promise of an all-powerful technology of the body rooted in the mysteries of Chinese culture. However, after 1995 the scientific underpinnings of qigong came under attack, its leaders were denounced as charlatans, and its networks of followers, notably Falungong, were suppressed as "evil cults."

According to Palmer, the success of the movement proves that a hugely important religious dimension not only survived under the CCP but was actively fostered, if not created, by high-ranking party members. Tracing the complex relationships among the masters, officials, scientists, practitioners, and ideologues involved in qigong, Palmer opens a fascinating window on the transformation of Chinese tradition as it evolved along with the Chinese state. As he brilliantly demonstrates, the rise and collapse of the qigong movement is key to understanding the politics and culture of post-Mao society.

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From the Publisher

Qigong?a regimen of body, breath, and mental training exercises?was one of the most widespread cultural and religious movements of late-twentieth-century urban China. The practice was promoted by senior Communist Party leaders as a uniquely Chinese healing tradition and as a harbinger of a new scientific revolution, yet the movement's...

David A. Palmer is adjunct professor of anthropology and religious studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and research fellow at the Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient. He obtained his Ph.D. at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne, Paris) and was the Eileen Barker Fellow in Religion and Contemporary Society at the Lond...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.69 × 5.81 × 1.08 inPublished:March 27, 2007Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231140665

ISBN - 13:9780231140669

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviationIntroduction

1. The Birth of Modern Qigong, 1949-64

2. Political Networks and the Formation of the Qigong Sector

3. The Grandmasters

4. Qigong Scientism

5. Qigong Fever

6. Controversy and Crisis

7. Control and Rationalisation

8. Militant Qigong: The Emergence of Falungong

9. Falungong Challenges the CCP

Epilogue: The Collapse of the Qigong MovementConclusion

Appendix: On the Sources Used for this StudyBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Qigong Fever is well written, engaging, and extensively researched. It is a landmark in the study of qigong and an indispensible resource for anyone attempting to understand Chinese society in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.