Gods, Ghosts, & Ancestors: Folk Religion in a Taiwanese Village (1999) This is the full text of my 1972 book, which was slightly revised and republished in Taiwan in 1985. For the on-line version (the third edition) the Romanization system used to represent Chinese words has been changed from Gwoyeu Romatzyh to the now universal Pinyin, and the number of photographs has been roughly doubled. Chinese characters will display only if your computer is equipped to display them, but the book has been written so that it does not depend on them, so their absence should make no difference except to readers who know Chinese.
Being Colloquial in Esperanto: A Reference Guide (1992) This is the full text of my popular handbook for English speakers who have completed an elementary course in Esperanto and still have many unanswered questions. The work is unique in describing modern, fluent speakers' actual usage (and variation) rather than presenting Esperanto as a hypothetical project. The on-line version has been very slightly revised and expanded from time to time.
Chinese Matchmakers of Tianjin & Taoyuan (1997) A broad consideration of Chinese marriage arrangement, including both historical and ethnographic material. Matchmakers are ubiquitous but nearly unstudied figures on the traditional Chinese landscape,and are still central to Chinese marriage today.
The Glyphomancy Factor: Observations on Chinese Conversion (1993)
Both popular and sociological theories about what causes people to change or sustain religious faith produce broad generalizations of great utility. But they aren't the whole story. Starting from the case of an informant who is a Christian because he believes that the composition of Chinese characters tell him he should be, this article argues that one must not overlook the sometimes very idiosyncratic motivations that are not always captured in our broader theories.
Folk Filial Piety in Taiwan: The "Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars" (1986) (PDF Format: 316K; 36 pp.)
A paper analyzing Chinese tales of heroically filial children. The original was published in the proceedings volume of a Korean conference on the psychodynamics of the Confucian family, and is not widely available. Although this paper analyzes well over a hundred tales found in modern collections, the original, Yuán dynasty collection of twenty-four tales has clear cultural priority. That set, originally included as an apendix to this article, is provided in Chinese and English on this web site, as listed below.
Two Kinds of Chinese Religious Processions & Their Sociological Implications (1986)
An examination of the unintended peacekeeping effects of distinct kinds of Chinese religious processions. Since processions require cooperation, the organizing of a procession inspires people to try to make peace, although the exact nature of this effect varies depending upon who must cooperate with whom. This conference paper was published in a proceedings volume with the spelling of the Chinese hashed by the editor beyond recognizability. In this web edition the paper has been revised into standard Pinyin (with tones), and Chinese characters (omitted in the proceedings volume) have been restored.
Sworn Brothers: A Study in Chinese Ritual Kinship (1985)
A review of the Chinese custom of swearing oaths of brotherhood (and occasionally sisterhood or cross-sex siblinghood). The custom has been associated with criminal gangs, but has existed among all elements of Chinese society for centuries, and yet has been almost unstudied by ethnographers. In this article I discuss some of the cultural, social, and psychological implications of the custom, especially as practiced in southern Taiwan toward the end of the XXth century. An appendix includes a translation (from the Russian) of two sworn-brotherhood oaths used in the late XIXth century as local law codes in the Sino-Russian border area. This web edition adds Chinese characters and upgrades the Romanizations to tone-marked Pinyin.
Transplants & Transforms: Public Schools & Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan (1985) (PDF Format: 913K, 19 pp.) This paper argues that Mandarin as spoken in Taiwan differs from mainland Mandarin not only because it is a second language for most of the population but also because of the way in which it is presented in the public schools, providing an unusual example of a school system having a substantial impact on the evolution of a spoken language.
Taiwanese Poe Divination: Statistical Awareness and Religious Belief (1982) Many Taiwanese, like lots of other people, believe in the miracle of divination, and a prime means by which they receive messages from the supernatural is divination blocks. But divination blocks have mundane statistical properties that are overlooked when they are interpreted as divine mouthpieces. In this article, I argue that some believers are, in fact, aware of these statistical properties, even though they prefer to keep themout of focus most of the time.
Eufunctions, Dysfunctions, and Oracles: Literary Miracle-Making in Taiwan (1990) A discussion of some virtuoso "revelation texts" used to illustrate a theoretical discussion that maintains that human behavior is best understood in relation to the vector sum of a wide range of intended and unintended, conscious and unconscious, manifest and latent, recognized and unrecognized consequences of action, some of which are eufunctional and some dysfunctional. By taking account of the comparative valence of dysfunction, we can more easily explain why some people do not take part in sectarian behavior.
How To Become a Chinese Spirit Medium (1977, Unpublished) This conference paper was intended to explore some of the differences between rural mediums, as represented in Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors, and urban mediums, many of whom came from the same village background.
A Chinese Culture of Elections or the Decline of Honest Bribery (1977, Unpublished) (PDF Format: 181K, 21 pp.)
This manuscript discusses the evolution of voting behavior in local elections in Taiwan over the twenty years that followed the establishment of representative local government. Initially, most people voted for friends and relations, or for candidates who seemed good. Next candidates began paying for votes, first with small gifts, later with cash. Vote selling and buying was illegal, but became universal. In time, however, it became evident that the secrecy of the ballot box permitted people to sell their votes to more than one candidate, and the system of illegal vote buying collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions. This study is unusual because I was there during the election where the collapse occurred, and was able to collect information about how specific families sold and double-sold their votes, how they actually voted, how the factional leaders planned their vote-buying before the election, and what they thought about the situation when the multiple vote sales became obvious after the election.
A Medium's First Trance (1976) Despite the critical role of spirit mediums in the practice of Chinese religion, there are surprisingly few descriptions in the published literature of a medium's first trance. This description made up the "case" by which the religion chapter was introduced in the anthropology textbook I wrote with Marc J. Swartz. It is reproduced here, very slightly modified to detach it from the rest of the chapter, and with a few more pictures.
Syncretism & Sectarian Behavior in Taiwan (1988) A reconsideration of the use of the idea of syncretism in the study of religion. Syncretism is not just an historical fact, but may be a self-conscious goal, a rhetorical put-down, or a lot of other things. This conference paper was never published.
Anti-American Children's Verses from Taiwan (1973) The prosody of Chinese regional children's verse is far different from the prosody of classical Chinese poetry, and perhaps no occasion shows this more vividly than embarrassingly derogatory children's rhymed catcalls far from the censorial reach of school teachers or publishers. This essay examines a couple of these recorded from Taiwanese children in the 1960s, when they were used to mock the odd and lordly Americans, who still had troops stationed on the island.
Jargon & Gibberish Satires I have always disliked mindless repetition of fashionable phrases. A ten-day sentence to the University of California Management Institute (the infamous UCMI) led to the first of these satires in 1982. I was voted "person most likely to go to Sacramento" on the basis of it. But it is not only managers who gibber in mind-numbing jargon rather than thinking for themselves. The satires in this collection include political speeches, fundraising, corporate reports, &c.
Falsloraj Rakontoj (k.s.) Can Esperanto have folklore? If not, can it at least have fakelore? The answer is yes. Here are some examples. (The essay is in Esperanto.)
The Life of the Buddha Originally a "Sinocentric" account using Chinese proper names rather than Indian ones, this was created for use in classes on Chinese folk religion. The Chinese names are in fact not easier for most students than the Indian ones would be, and in that sense the Chinese version was a failure, although it was an easily read and digested summary of the life of the Buddha, with illustrations by undergraduates. The link here goes to a later version using Sanskrit rather than Chinese names. A link in the introduction connects to the Chinese variant.
Tales of the Living Buddha of Golden Mountain This is an English adaptation —not really a translation— of a religious tract in cartoon form directed to children and prepared for distribution in Buddhist temples in Taiwan in the 1970s.It is a quick read and can be used to stimulate discussion about attributions of "miraculous" healing &c. to Buddhist priests, as well as the tensions between Buddhists and modernity.
Translation From Latin, Partly for Use in My Classes on the Ethnography of Christianity:
Saint Nicholas from the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine (1228-1298) The Golden Legend was the Medieval World's prime source on signs and wonders. In these days of a quest for true history (or to deconstruct history to show that nothing is true), tales for which wonder is more important than historicity or deconstruction are distinctly refreshing.
Translations From Chinese, Mostly for Use in Classes on Traditional China:
These materials are more briefly listed on the page of China resources, where some additional items may also be found. The list here includes fewer items, but longer comments. In nearly all cases, the translation is accompanied by the original text in traditional and simplified characters and Pinyin romanization.
Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars These tales never fail to horrify American (including Asian-American) students when I point out that they are best-sellers in China and have been for centuries. This realization can set the stage for a serious interest in cultural difference. My 1986 article analyzing this set of tales and modifications of it will be found in the "articles" section. Retellings of these stories are linked on the main page for Chinese tales.
The Jade Guidebook: A Visitor's Guide to Hell (Translation and Original Text) Although most people are exposed to the famous "courts of hell" through their representation in paintings or sculpture, morality texts describing them have circulated for centuries. Presented here is the one most widely found today.
Letter Against Infanticide by Sū Dōngbō 苏东坡 This fascinating letter is useful in discussing rhetorical style, the opportunities and limits of a magistrate's power, and traditional infanticide.
Stopping Mother's Chanting This extremely brief story about a superstitious mother and her manipulative son is an appropriate discussion starter following on the Filial Exemplars, above. It is short enough to be read out loud in class and can be discussed in connection with the idea of remonstration.