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Ritual, Communication and Culture: Overcoming the Paradox of a Modern, (Yet) Traditional Society
There is no doubt that China and Asia have been going through an extended period of change and transition. These changes have most often been seen, and understood from within the paradigm "tradition and modernity", and often articulated as a "paradox". However, the discourse dealing with how the West understands China has more to do with ideology than with a critical and reasoned understanding of another culture. "Apparent" paradoxes are indicative of epistemological problems or inconsistencies. The main epistemological problem with this paradigm is one of Western ethno-centric distortion. The global hegemony of Western intelligentsia, including the media, promotes "the ideas and values" invented by Western intellectuals and reflects the ideologies and values of Western culture.Important symbols, such as ancestor worship, are "vehicles of culture" and they may be studied not for themselves, but for what they can reveal to us about culture. Starting with the rituals of Chinese ancestor worship and ending with the rituals of modern day news and information consumption, this paper explores how a symbolic understanding Chinese culture reveals the deep streams of cultural continuity, where "tradition" abides at one level, and "modernity" at another.
Publication titleAsian Journal of Literature, Culture and Society
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
PublisherAssumption University Press
Place of publicationBangkok
Rights statementCopyright 2009 Assumption University Press