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Falun Gong and the Future of China


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Qigong, Falun Gong, and the Crisis of the Post-Mao State 2. A History for Falun Gong 3. The Creation and Evolution of Qigong 4. The Life and Times of Li Hongshi in China, 1952-1995 5. Falung Gong Outside of China: Fieldwork among Diaspora Practitioners 6. David Meets Goliath: The Conflict between Falun Gong and the Chinese State Conclusion: Unpacking Contexts Appendix I: Chinese Emgigration to North America, 1951-2002 Appendix 2: Falun Dafa Practioners Questionnaire Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

David Ownby is Professor of History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Universite de Montreal, in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of Brotherhoods and Secret Societies in Early and Mid-Qing China: The Formation of a Tradition, and the co-author, with Qin Baoqi and Susan J. Palmer, of The Millennium and the Turning of the Kalpa: The Historical Evolution of Apocalyptic Discourse in China and in the West.


Historian Ownby examines the controversial Falun Gong movement in this detailed study of its origins in China and its status among the Chinese diaspora, particularly in North America. Addressing Falun Gong within the context of "Chinese popular religions" and the post-Mao state's "ongoing search for political and cultural identity" rather than human rights discourse, Ownby (Universite de Montreal) sifts through conflicting evidence to explain why neither Falun Gong's development nor the Chinese government's strong reaction were historical anomalies. He describes how Falun Gong, a spiritual cultivation system rooted in China's "redemptive societies" and the recent enthusiasm for qigong, began in 1992. He also chronicles the events that led the Chinese government to crack down on this popular movement in 1999, including the aftermath in China and abroad. The book includes extensive quotes from founder Li Hongzhi's writings as well as "witness statements" from practitioners. Despite the book's title, China's future given the persistence of Falun Gong's adherents is not extensively addressed. Ownby's account, while strongly written, is perhaps most suited for academic collections. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Falun Gong and the Future of China challenges students of Chinese society and politics to reconsider the continued influence of religiosity in the narrative of modern China. Touching on ancient history, peasant rebellions, religious revivals, Chinese medicine, the qigong movement, diaspora studies, the Internet in China, Communist Party politics, and more, Ownby uncovers the rich layers of context which are essential to understanding the Falun Gong issue. The book, written in clear, engaging and often humorous prose, will be an invaluable resource for specialists and general readers alike. David A. Palmer, author of Qigong Fever: Body, Science and Utopia in China "In his splendid book, David Ownby takes you behind the images of self-immolating protesters, baton-wielding security personnel, and a unique religious and political phenomenon to place Falun Gong, perhaps the most important mass movement in China in decades, in its historical context. This book is crucial to anyone seeking to understand the role that religion and the search for meaning play in today's China." --John Pomfret, author of Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China "In a readable style that will appeal to the general reader while satisfying the demands of specialists, Ownby makes a hugely important contribution to our understanding of Falun Gong. To situate Falun Gong in its full context, past and present, is to lay the basis for a fair and full assessment. No other book on the subject has yet done this. There are so many crucial elements here that are missing from other works on the subject: Falun Gong's deliberate efforts to affiliate itself to science, its less deliberate links to the religious movements of China's past, the revival of spirituality in post-Mao China, and the regime's crisis of legitimacy. Above all, this book shows the deadly consequences of the blindness of those within and without the movement to China's own religious history." --Michael Szonyi, John Loeb Associate Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University, and author of Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Frontlines "[Ownby] has written a highly readable, interdisciplinary study of the movement. ...witty and accessible." --Religious Studies Review "This volume will be appreciated by specialists both in religious studies and in China studies, as well as by general readers and even by Fauln Gong practitioners...Ownby has put Chinese religion in a position of never before held prominence in the 'rethinking and rewriting of China's modern history.'"--The Journal of Religion

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