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Gods, Ghosts, & Ancestors:
Folk Religion in a Taiwanese Village

Third Edition
An On-Line Book

This edition works best viewed on a computer. However the following two downloadable files will probably work better for Kindles, iPads, Nooks, and other E-readers. Each file contains the full book.

E-Reader formats: Mobi (Kindle); Epub (other readers)

Click here for information about other editions, including the 2012 Chinese translation.

I. Table of Contents

photo by DKJ

II. Book Abstract

This book describes the religious beliefs and practices of an agricultural village of Southern Taiwan in the middle 1960s. The village has a temple, and some religious activity centers there. But far more activity is connected to the business of daily life in individual households and groups of households. Far from the world of organized Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, village religion centers on the spiritual forces that local people believe impinge upon them in the form of gods, who help them, ghosts, who trouble them, and the family dead, who can themselves become gods and ghosts. And underlying theme of morality prevades all of this, but so does opportunism and manipulation.

This book is unusual in being one of a very small number of religion-centered ethnographies of any Chinese population.

In 2013 Professor Ting Jen-chieh (Dīng Rénjié) 丁仁傑, of Academia Sinica, published a rich and comprehensive restudy of the same village: 重訪保安村 (Restudying Bǎo’ān Village) (Táiběi: 聯經出版公司. xv+663pp. ISBN: 978-957-08-4166-4.)

III. Background to This Edition and How to Cite It

Published by the University of California Press (Berkeley, California, 1972), the book found a far larger audience in its very slightly modified second (paperback) edition published by Cave Books (Táiběi, 1985), which was legally exportable anywhere in the world, but which was in practice distributed only in Taiwan. To the best of my knowledge, that edition is now out of print.

Because of continuing requests for reprints, the work is here made available on the World Wide Web in a third edition, revised in 1999. It differs from the second edition (1985) in that (1) all Romanization has been changed to Pinyin; (2) The number of pictures has been increased; (3) it is being published on the World-Wide Web, which naturally has entailed various kinds of reformatting; (4) it is free.

Each chapter is in a separate html file. To reduce the download time, pictures have been kept to separate pages and merely linked to the relevant parts of the associated chapters.

Because the basic computer file from which this edition was created was scanned from the second edition before being re-edited to change the Romanizations, some proof errors have been introduced. Others have been introduced in the course of the reformatting to make the complex typography into web pages. If you find such errors, please let me know so that I can correct them.

This text contains diacritics and Chinese characters which can be properly displayed only if you have a unicode (UTF-8) compliant web browser. If you have a problem with that, click here for more information.

I suggest the following citation format:

JORDAN, David K.
 1999 Gods, ghosts, & ancestors: folk religion in a 
 Taiwanese village. Third edition. San Diego CA: Department 
 of Anthropology, UCSD. (Published as a WWW document. 
 URL: https://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan.)

Please note that it is best to cite the main page of the site, since it is sometimes necessary to move materials into different subdirectories or onto other servers. The main page will always provide the necessary links to the precise pages. Because there are no page numbers in a book published in this way, in-text citation should probably include the chapter number instead (e.g., Jordan 1999: ch. 7).

IV. Copyright Information

This book, and hence the associated portions of this web site, are copyrighted. Although you may use the material on-line, you may not publish (or mirror) it elsewhere in whole or in part. Teachers wishing to assign portions of this material to their students may refer them to this location or may place extracts on their own sites if those extracts are in password-protected zones.

Taiwanese cartoon of the ethnographer
Taiwanese View of the Author Offering Incense in a Temple
(From Taiwan Pictorial, Rural Edition, 10 June 1967)

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