Modernist iconoclasm, resilience, and divine power among the Mangghuer of the northeast Tibetan plateau
journal contributionposted on 2021-06-15, 05:08 authored by Gerald RocheGerald Roche, Xianghcheng Wen
Resilience, a concept derived from ecological theory, refers to the capacity of an entity or system to persist despite externally imposed shocks. This article uses resilience theory to examine how certain ideas persist when encountering antagonistic concepts that are backed by superior social and material forces. Such resilience is explored in the context of the Mangghuer people of the Sanchuan region of the Northeast Tibetan Plateau in China. Resilience is exemplified in the concept of divine power, the foundational concept in the Mangghuer version of Chinese popular religion, and its persistence in the face of Chinese state modernism. This research suggests that the content and ontological assumptions of concepts are important in determining the cultural outcomes of social interactions. Understanding cultural reproduction, resilience, and change therefore requires descriptive ethnographic understandings of concepts, not just of the power dynamics and social and material forces involved in their interaction. © Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.